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Can you reverse type 2 diabetes?

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Reversing type 2 diabetes

Scientists are researching a new treatment using a low-calorie diet to help people put their type 2 diabetes into remission. The study is called DiRECT (Diabetes Remission Clinical Trial) and could completely change the way type 2 diabetes is treated in the future.

For 3-5 months, a low-calorie diet of 800 calories a day is implemented. Made up of four soups or shakes, comprising all the essential vitamins and minerals needed, no other food intake is permitted.

The first year results show that it’s possible for some people to put type 2 diabetes into remission using a low-calorie, diet-based, weight management programme, delivered by their GP. In fact, almost half of those who took part in the programme were in remission after a year.

The study found there was a close link between type 2 diabetes remission and total weight loss. 86% of people who lost more than 15kg on the programme were in remission after a year, as were 57% of people who lost 10-15kg, and 34% who lost 5-10kg.

In the comparison group, where people had the best diabetes care currently available, but didn’t try the new weight management approach, only 4% went into remission.

Remission is defined as when blood glucose (or blood sugar) levels are in a normal range again. This doesn’t mean diabetes has gone for good, so it’s still important for people in remission to get regular healthcare checks. This way, any complications can be monitored and signs of type 2 diabetes returning can be caught early.

At the end of the diet, those taking part are supported to gradually reintroduce normal food and get expert support to help them maintain their weight loss in the long term.


Leicester Diabetes Centre reference Primary care-led weight management for remission of type 2 diabetes (DiRECT) Lean ME, Leslie ES, Barnes AC et al.