NEW DELHI: Type 2 diabetes can be reversed if you can lose weight radically, according to a study by UK scientists who managed to reverse the chronic condition in nearly half the participants who followed their weight management programme. All participants had been diagnosed with the condition within the past six years.
The results published in the international journal, The Lancet, show remission of diabetes was closely related to the degree of weight loss. As many as 86% of participants who achieved at least 15kg of weight loss had beaten back the disease while 73% of those with weight loss of 10kg or more had the same result.
Why it’s a big deal: Type 2 diabetes accounts for 90-95% of all cases
Doctors withdrew the anti-diabetic and antihypertensive drugs of those opting for weight loss for diabetes remission. They were put on a total diet replacement phase for three months thereafter, extendable up to five months if wished by participant. During this period, the patients were given a low energy formula diet (825 – 853 kcal/day).
This was followed by structured food reintroduction of two to eight weeks and an ongoing structured programme with monthly visits for long-term weight loss maintenance. There was no increase in physical activity during total diet replacement.
TOI spoke to top endocrinologists in Delhi who held the findings as pathbreaking and of far reaching consequence. “With knowledge of remarkable results from this study, we could remove ‘Diabetic for life’ label from many patients,” said Dr Anoop Misra, chairman, Fortis C-doc hospital for diabetes.
There are two predominant types of diabetes. In Type 1, the immune system destroys the cells in the pancreas that make insulin.
In Type 2, which accounts for an estimated 90 to 95% of all cases, the body’s cells are not sufficiently receptive to insulin, or the pancreas makes too little of it, or both. Doctors say conventional treatment involves life-long medications to control blood sugar or insulin supplement.
Weight loss surgery for diabetes remission is also getting common but few can afford it. Also, it is fraught with risks such as micronutrient deficiency.
According to Dr Sujeet Jha from Max hospital Saket, radical weight loss helps remove excess fat from the pancreas. “This allows increase in insulin production and even their secretion,” he said, while explaining the logic behind weight loss for diabetes remission.
Jha said he was trying weight loss technique for reversal of diabetes in seven patients of which five had shown significant success in reversing the condition.
While a normal diet contains 1,600 to 1,800 calories, diabetologists say low calorie diet attempts to bring down calorie intake to 600 to 800 calories.
Professor Roy Taylor from Newcastle University, UK, who co-led the study, said large weight losses targeted by bariatric surgery are not essential to reverse the underlying processes which cause Type 2 diabetes.
“The weight loss goals provided by this programme are achievable for many people. The big challenge is longterm avoidance of weight regains,” he added.
Previously considered a disease of the affluent, diabetes has spread fast among the rural poor to thanks to unhealthy diet and reduced physical activity.
The medical community has warned against serious financial implications from diabetes if the country does not act fast to tackle the spread of the disease.
Courtesy: Durgesh Nandan Jha, The Times of India