70% of those who participated in the trial were able to reverse type 2 diabetes with DIET.
This meant that they could receive treatment for their long-lasting condition.
This trial was the first to examine a low-calorie diet for already lean type 2 diabetics.
Type 2 diabetes is more likely to be diagnosed in obese people than in non-obese people. But 10% of diabetics have a lower BMI (body mass index).
Type 2 diabetics often hear that they need to lose weight. But thin people have fewer options.
Professor Roy Taylor of Newcastle University said: “This is great news for all people with type 2 diabetes, not only pointing the way to an effective return to health, but also putting question the misconceptions that cling to the disease.
His landmark research has shown that overweight type 2 diabetics can achieve remission by losing weight.
This led to the launch of the NHS Soup and Shake diet, which is now available to thousands of people across England.
Research has found that removing fat from within the pancreas and liver – the two key organs involved in blood sugar control – is key to Type 2 remission in obese or overweight people.
The latest study, the ReTUNE trial, looked at whether it would work for 20 thinner diabetics – with a BMI at or just above the healthy range, below 27.
For two to four weeks, participants followed an 800-calorie diet of non-starchy meal replacements and formula.
The 4-6 week weight loss maintenance period included gradual reintroductions to normal foods.
Participants lost between 10 and 15 percent of their body weight in this weight loss, maintenance cycle.
After each cycle, the research team measured the amount of fat in the participants’ pancreas and liver and looked to see how remission was produced.
After 12 months, participants’ BMI averaged 22.4, compared to 24.8. This means they were still in the healthy weight category.
About 70% had gone into remission after just one cycle of weight loss, while half of them had achieved the feat within a year.
For remission, an average weight loss was about eight percent.
According to the study, fat loss from the liver or pancreas is key.
Chris Askew (Chief Executive of Diabetes UK) called the research a “game changer”.
David Childs of Cleadon (Sunderland), participated in the study. He is now in remission.
He was 48 when he was diagnosed with diabetes. Her BMI was 27.
He had no idea his symptoms, which included headaches and failing eyesight, could be caused by this.
After successfully participating in the trial, he said, “My declining health scared me, it’s what pushed me to take action and make choices so I can live a full and healthy life with my family.
“I exercise and eat well, and I’m determined to stay in remission.”
Diabetes is estimated to cost the NHS £10 billion a year, with treatment accounting for one in 20 prescriptions written by GPs.
The number of people being treated for diabetes is expected to increase, as will related complications like heart attacks and strokes.
Two major trials were the catalyst for the creation of the NHS Low Calorie Diet Programme.
In September 2020, seven NHS trusts were the first to receive the scheme. It was extended to 11 additional areas in January.
Early data from the NHS shows that participants lost an average of 7.2kg (more than one stone) in one month and 13.4kg (more than two stones) in three months.
Since 2016, around half a billion overweight people have taken part in the NHS diabetes prevention programme.
New statistics show that the average successful participant loses half a stone. [3.3kg]An estimated 18,000 new cases of type 2 diabetes have been prevented.
Diabetes UK warns that low calorie diets are difficult for many people.
It does not offer an 800 calorie per day meal plan because it says these are achieved by having meal replacements like soups and shakes that are nutritionally balanced.
It reads: “If you have chosen to try a low calorie diet, talk to your GP or nurse first, especially if you are using medicines such as insulin.”