People who can reduce their weight by 10 per cent or more within the first five years of diagnosis with type 2 diabetes have the greatest chance of going into remission, according to a study which suggests that it is possible to recover from the disease without intensive lifestyle interventions, or extreme calorie restrictions.
Type 2 diabetes which affects more than 400 million people worldwide, increases the risk of heart disease, stroke, blindness, and amputations, the study, published in the journal Diabetic Medicine, noted.
The researchers, including those from the University of Cambridge in the UK, said that while type 2 diabetes can be managed through a combination of positive lifestyle changes and medication, it was also possible for the patients high blood glucose levels to return to normal if they went through significant calorie restriction and weight loss.
Studies have established that an intensive low-calorie diet consisting of 700 calories daily intake — less than one cheeseburger — for a period of 8 weeks was associated with remission in almost nine out of ten people recently diagnosed with the disease, and in half the number of people with longstanding disease, the researchers said.
However, they added that there was little evidence to show whether the same effect could be achieved by people undergoing less intensive interventions, which are more feasible and potentially scalable to the wider population. They studied data from the ADDITION-Cambridge trial — a cohort study of 867 people with newly diagnosed diabetes aged 40 and 69 years recruited from general practices. The study noted that 257 participants (30 per cent) were in remission at a follow-up after five years.
The researchers said that people who could reduce their weight by 10 per cent, or more, within the first five years after diagnosis were more than twice as likely to go into remission — compared to those who maintained the same weight after the period.
“Weve known for some time now that its possible to send diabetes into remission using fairly drastic measures such as intensive weight loss programmes and extreme calorie restriction,” said co-author Hajira Dambha-Miller of the University of Cambridge. The interventions, he said, can be very challenging to individuals and difficult to achieve.
But the researchers suggested that it may be possible to lose weight, for at least five years, with a more modest weight loss of 10 per cent. “This will be more motivating and hence more achievable for many people,” Dambha-Miller said.