New Study Shows Weight Loss Reverses Type 2 Diabetes and Need for Medication

A new study has found that remission of type 2 diabetes is possible by weight management alone, assisted through primary care, eliminating the need for anti-diabetic drugs.

The study was conducted by researchers at the University of Glasgow in Scotland, led by Professor Michael Lean MD, and 24 other colleagues, who published their findings in the medical journal The Lancet.

Type 2 diabetes

Type 2 diabetes, also called adult-onset diabetes, is when the body doesn’t produce enough insulin or resists insulin. It’s a chronic disorder that requires lifelong treatment.

There are 3 million new cases in the United States each year, especially affecting those 40 years and older. The condition affects more than 422 million people and 8.5% of all adults worldwide. Consider that in 1980 there were 108 million cases affected – that’s a jump of 314 million.

As obesity rates across the globe are rising, type 2 diabetes is also rising. Current treatments are diet, exercise, medication, and insulin therapy.

Findings of the study

The study was conducted over three years and recruited 306 people between the ages of 20-65 years who had been diagnosed with type II diabetes within the past six years. Participants also had a body mass index (BMI) of 27-45 kilograms and were not receiving insulin.

As part of the study, participants withdrew their use of anti-diabetic and anti-hypertensive drugs, and were managed through a diet replacement of an 825-853 kcal formula diet for a period of 3-5 months. After that, they were treated with a progressive food reintroduction for 2-8 weeks, and thereafter were unstructured support for long-term weight loss maintenance.

At 12 months, 46%, nearly half of the participants of the study achieved complete remission to a non-diabetic state, without the need for anti-diabetic drugs.

Comments by the researchers

“Our findings suggest that even if you have had type 2 diabetes for 6 years, putting the disease into remission is feasible,” Dr. Lean said in a press release. “In contrast to other approaches, we focus on the need for long-term maintenance of weight loss through diet and exercise and encourage flexibility to optimize individual results.”

“Follow-up of this cohort to establish longer-term outcomes will continue to at least 4 years,” another of the study’s authors wrote.

“Continued work on optimizing the maintenance of weight loss would be useful; however, our results should pave the way for this type of intervention to be considered in the routine care of patients with type 2 diabetes who wish to attain diabetes remission.”