People who achieve a weight loss of 10% or more in the first five years after being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes have the best chances of the condition going into remission, according to new research from the University of Cambridge. The findings indicate that it may be possible to “reverse” type 2 diabetes without extreme dieting or lifestyle interventions.
More than 30 million people in the United States have diabetes, and 90% to 95% of those affected have type 2 diabetes, which is characterized by insulin resistance and insufficient insulin secretion. Risk factors include overweight and obesity, family history of the disease, high blood pressure, impaired glucose tolerance, metabolic syndrome, and low levels of physical activity.
To get cutting-edge diabetes news, strategies for blood glucose management, nutrition tips, healthy recipes, and more delivered straight to your inbox, sign up for our free newsletter!
Previous research has indicated that type 2 diabetes remission is possible by following an intensive, low-calorie diet of 700 calories per day for 8 weeks. Studies have not shown, however, whether less extreme interventions can achieve the same result.
To address this question, researchers looked at data from the ADDITION-Cambridge trial, which involved 867 people ages 40 to 69 with newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes. The researchers found that 30% (257) of the subjects were in remission at a five-year follow-up. Those who had lost 10% or more of their weight within the first five years of diagnosis were more than twice as likely to go into remission compared to people who had maintained their weight.
“We’ve known for some time now that it’s possible to send diabetes into remission using fairly drastic measures such as intensive weight loss programmes and extreme calorie restriction,” noted Hajira Dambha-Miller, MRCGP, PhD, FHEA, from the Department of Public Health and Primary Care. “These interventions can be very challenging to individuals and difficult to achieve. But, our results suggest that it may be possible to get rid of diabetes, for at least five years, with a more modest weight loss of 10%. This will be more motivating and hence more achievable for many people.”
Want to learn more about type 2 diabetes remission? Read “Reversing Type 2 Diabetes Through Weight Loss,” “Study: Weight Loss Reverses Type 2 Diabetes: ADA 2019” and “‘Reversing’ Type 2 Diabetes: Can It Be Done?”
Senior Digital Editor for DiabetesSelfManagement.com, Fennell has 16 years’ experience specializing in diabetes and related health conditions. Based in New York City, she has a degree from Columbia University.