6 November 2017: Diabetes UK has announced a breakthrough today, in using a low-calorie diet to put Type 2 diabetes into remission in some people. This study called, DIRECT (Diabetes Remission Clinical Trial) has reached the end of its first year and 45.6% of those who followed a low-calorie diet, under the supervision of a GP, have put their Type 2 diabetes into remission.
Weight loss was a key factor. 86% of people who lost more than 15kg on the programme were in remission after a year, as were 57% of people who lost 10 to 15kg, and 34% who lost 5 to 10kg. The low-calorie diet of 800 calories a day for 8 to 20 weeks, is made up of four soups or shakes. These have all the essential vitamins and minerals. This period is followed by a long-term programme of weight loss maintenance. Read the full Diabetes UK announcement here http://bit.ly/2fiDdy5.
Remission is defined as blood glucose (or blood sugar) levels returning to the normal range. Diabetes UK added “This doesn’t mean diabetes has gone for good. It’s still really important for people in remission to get regular healthcare checks, so any complications can be monitored and any signs of Type 2 diabetes coming back can be caught early”.
Diabetes UK awarded £2.5 million to Newcastle University (Professor Roy Taylor) and University of Glasgow (Professor Mike Lean) to find out if an intensive low-calorie, diet-based, weight management programme can put Type 2 diabetes into remission, and keep it there. And to test if this can be delivered entirely within the NHS. Read more here http://bit.ly/2fiDdy5.
More work yet to do
These are the initial results of the trial, work is ongoing. Participants of the study will need to be followed up long term to determine how long the remission of Type 2 diabetes lasts for and to gain a deeper understanding of the long-term implications of the study. Not everyone with Type 2 diabetes will benefit as not everyone with Type 2 diabetes is overweight, other factors are how long someone has diabetes, and a person’s ethnicity.
Don’t go it alone
Following a low-calorie diet to put Type 2 Diabetes into remission is not a quick fix, it is very challenging and it is not recommended to try this alone. Anyone with Type 2 diabetes considering losing weight in this way needs to discuss it with their GP and dietitian to get tailored advice and support. If a person is taking medications that has a risk of low blood glucose levels (hypos), sulphonylureas or insulin they will need to consult with their GP as their medications will need to be adjusted as the weight loss continues. It would also be necessary to monitor the blood glucose levels more closely at home and keep a watchful eye for hypos.
Participants of the study needed the ongoing support and advice of experts to gradually re-introduce normal food into their diet and get support to help them maintain their weight loss long term.