Curing Diabetes by Losing Weight! Is it Possible?

Around the globe, 1 out of 11 adults have diabetes (1).  This is equivalent to approximately 416 million individuals, which is expected to increased to 642 million over the next couple of decades (1)

It has been well documented that diabetes could be managed through adoption of a healthy lifestyle (2, 3). This includes healthy eating, regular physical activity, smoking cessation, and weight management (2, 3). More specific to the latter, individuals who are overweight tend to see improvements in their condition following a modest weight loss of 5 to 10% (4, 5). Hence, the current Clinical Practice Guidelines emphasize lifestyle advice as part of standard-of-care for diabetes management (2).

But what if diabetes could be reversed by achieving a healthy lifestyle? A recent study published in The Lancet suggests a potential for remission of type 2 diabetes through weight loss (6). In this study, overweight and obese participants with type 2 diabetes were put under a 6 month dietary plan to support them in achieving intense weight loss (6). They found that about half of the participants achieved diabetes remission and were taken off antidiabetic medication (6). Interestingly, the degree of diabetes remission correlated with the amount of lost weight where  9 out of 10 participants  who had lost close to 15 kilograms of their body weight and 7 out of 10 participants who had lost 10 kg or more of their body weight achieved remission (6). In addition to this, individuals depicted improved blood lipid profiles and some were taken off blood pressure medications (6).

It’s important to note that the participants in this study were newly diagnosed with diabetes (within 6 years prior to the study) (6). Further, the focus of the study was on weight loss, which was achieved through a low calorie formula diet; hence, the nutritional composition of the diet was not taken into consideration. Other limitations of the study include its short duration, which calls for future studies to follow up with these participants.

Of course, these results are significant and reinforce the importance of lifestyle interventions and weight loss in the management  of diabetes, and propose the possibly for remission of type 2 diabetes.

References

  1. Diabetes Atlas. (2017). IDF diabetes atlas – Home. Retrieved December 8, 2017, from http://www.diabetesatlas.org/
  2. Dworatzek, P., Arcudi, K., Arcudi, R., Husein, N., Sievenpiper, J. L., & Williams, S. (2013). Chapter 11: Nutrition Therapy. Retrieved from http://guidelines.diabetes.ca/browse/chapter11
  3. Powers, M. A., Bardsley, J., Cypress, M., Duker, P., Funnell, M. M., Fischl, A. H., … & Vivian, E. (2015). Diabetes self-management education and support in type 2 diabetes: a joint position statement of the American Diabetes Association, the American Association of Diabetes Educators, and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 115(8), 1323-1334.
  4. Lau, D. C., & Teoh, H. (2013). Benefits of modest weight loss on the management of type 2 diabetes mellitus. Canadian journal of diabetes, 37(2), 128-134.
  5. Franz, M. J., Boucher, J. L., Rutten-Ramos, S., & VanWormer, J. J. (2015). Lifestyle weight-loss intervention outcomes in overweight and obese adults with type 2 diabetes: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 115(9), 1447-1463.
  6. Lean, M. E., Leslie, W. S., Barnes, A. C., Brosnahan, N., Thom, G., McCombie, L., … Taylor, R. (2017). Primary care-led weight management for remission of type 2 diabetes (DiRECT): an open-label, cluster-randomised trial. The Lancet. doi:10.1016/s0140-6736(17)33102-1

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