Diet Can Reverse Type 2 Diabetes for at Least 2 Years

Approximately 36 percent of people with type 2 diabetes are still in remission 2 years after starting an energy- and carbohydrate-restricted diet.

type 2 diabetes

This is shown by a randomized clinical trial  among more than 300 people with diabetes in 49 general practices in Scotland and England. According to the researchers, this proves that type 2 diabetes is not an inevitable progressive disease. The results are published in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology .

Strict diet

Half of the participants received a dietary intervention 2 years ago and the other half a standard treatment. The dietary intervention consisted of a strict energy-limited and carbohydrate-restricted diet (meal shakes) for the period of 3-5 months. They were then given guidance in maintaining long-term weight loss. The patients were followed for 2 years.

Weight loss is decisive

The researchers define remission of diabetes as an HbA1c of <48 mmol / mol without the use of diabetes medication. After 2 years, 36 percent of the patients were in remission. That is slightly lower than the 46 percent who were in remission 1 year after starting. According to the researchers, this is because the weight of the 2 e year has increased slightly. Reversing type 2 diabetes appears to be strongly related to weight loss. Of the participants who still had at least 10 kg weight loss after 2 years, 64 percent are in remission. Approximately 1 in 4 participants in the intervention group achieved this weight loss. On average, the intervention group lost 5.4 kg more after 2 years than the control group.

Less diabetes medication

Beneficial effects were also found for participants who were not in remission. In the intervention group as a whole, glucose levels decreased and less diabetes medication was needed. The HbA1c decreased from an average of 60 mmol / mol at the start of the study to 54 mmol / mol after 2 years. At the start of the study, 75 percent of the participants needed diabetes medication. After 2 years that was only the case at 40 percent. For comparison: the HbA1c in the control group remained stable and the number of people who needed diabetes medication rose to 84 percent.


Why is weight loss so beneficial with type 2 diabetes? According to the researchers, there are indications that weight loss is accompanied by a reduction in the fat content in the pancreas. This improves the functioning of the pancreas and the production of insulin.

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