Low-calorie diet shown to reverse type 2 diabetes

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"This builds on the work into the underlying cause of the condition, so that we can target management effectively", Prof Roy Taylor from Newcastle University, lead researcher in the trial funded by Diabetes UK told the Guardian.

He says that their approach differs from the conventional way of managing type 2 diabetes in that it focuses "on the need for long-term maintenance of weight loss through diet and exercise and encourage [s] flexibility to optimize individual results".

Of the 36 people who lost at least 15kg 86% reversed their diabetes.

More than four million people in Britain have Type 2 diabetes, costing the NHS £14 billion a year. More than half - 57% - of those who lost between 10 and 15kg - 28 - also went into remission.

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Remission from diabetes was achieved in 46% of the intervention group and 4% of the control group. What we're seeing ... is that losing weight isn't just linked to better management of type 2 diabetes: "significant weight loss could actually result in lasting remission", added Taylor, whose team presented the results of the trials at the International Diabetes Federation Congress in Abu Dhabi.

A clinical trial has shown a reversal of type 2 diabetes is possible by following an extremely low-calorie diet.

The study comes at a time when more than 100 million American adults are living with diabetes or prediabetes, according to a report released earlier this year by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The first year findings of the study entitled Diabetes Remission Clinical Trial (DiRECT) show nearly half of those who took part in the programme were in remission after 12 months. Diet and lifestyle are touched upon but diabetes remission by cutting calories is rarely discussed. "Rather than addressing the root cause, management guidelines for type 2 diabetes focus on reducing blood sugar levels through drug treatments".

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Prof Taylor said that while bariatric surgery such as gastric bands would reverse diabetes in around three-quarters of patients, it was "more expensive and risky, and is only available to a small number of patients".

"Substantial weight loss results in reduced fat inside the liver and pancreas, allowing these organs to return to normal function".

An accompanying commentary backed the researchers' argument that weight loss ought to be the primary goal in the treatment of type 2 diabetes.

Dr Emily Burns, Diabetes UK acting head of research communications, said: 'Thanks to ground-breaking research like DiRECT we're beginning to change the conversation around Type 2 diabetes, and that's a conversation that Global Positioning System can have with their patients as well.

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