Study Reveals A New Way to Reverse Diabetes

Numerous studies have documented
that diabetes can be reversed with certain dietary changes.  Researchers at the University of Cambridge
found another effective way that triggers its remission.  This study reinforces the importance of
managing one’s weight, which can be achieved through changes in diet and
increasing physical activity

The findings suggest that it is
possible to recover from the disease without intensive lifestyle interventions
or extreme calorie restrictions.

Type 2 diabetes affects 400 million
people worldwide and increases the risk of heart disease, stroke, blindness and
amputations. While the disease can be managed through a combination of positive
lifestyle changes and medication, it is also possible for the high blood
glucose levels that define diabetes to return to normal – through significant
calorie restriction and weight loss. An intensive low-calorie diet involving a
total daily intake of 700 calories (less than one cheeseburger) for 8 weeks has
been associated with remission in almost nine out of ten people with recently
diagnosed diabetes and in a half of people with longstanding disease.

However, there is little evidence to
show whether the same effect can be achieved by people undergoing less
intensive interventions, which are more feasible and potentially scalable to
the wider population. To answer this question, a team led by researchers at the
University of Cambridge studied data from the ADDITION-Cambridge trial, a
prospective cohort study of 867 people with newly diagnosed diabetes aged 40
and 69 years recruited from general practices in the eastern region.

The research was funded by Wellcome,
the Medical Research Council and the National Institute for Health Research.

The researchers found that 257
participants (30%) participants were in remission at five-year follow-up.
People who achieved weight loss of 10% or more within the first five years
after diagnosis were more than twice as likely to go into remission compared to
people who maintained the same 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 programs and extreme calorie restriction,” says
Dr Hajira Dambha-Miller 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.”

Senior author Professor Simon
Griffin of the MRC Epidemiology Unit added: “This reinforces the importance of
managing one’s weight, which can be achieved through changes in diet and
increasing physical activity. Type 2 diabetes, while a chronic disease, can
lead to significant complications, but as our study shows, can be controlled
and even reversed.”

In order to clarify the best way to
help patients with type 2 diabetes achieve sustained weight loss, the team is
currently undertaking a study called GLoW (Glucose Lowering through Weight
management). The study compares the current education program offered by the
NHS to people after they have been diagnosed, with a program delivered by WW
(formerly Weight Watchers®). The team is looking to recruit individuals who
have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes within the last three years, have not
attended a structured education program and are able to visit one of our
testing centers in Wisbech, Ely or Addenbrooke’s Hospital. Further details can
be found at the GLOW Study website.


Dambha-Miller, H et al. Behaviour change, weight loss and
remission of type 2 diabetes: a community based prospective cohort study.
Diabetic Medicine; DOI: