Intensive lifestyle intervention can lead to partial remission of type 2 diabetes, according to new US research published online in the latest issue of JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association).
Edward Gregg, from the Wake Forest School of Medicine in North Carolina, and colleagues, analysed data from the Action for Health for Diabetes (Look AHEAD) study, a randomized controlled trial comparing an intensive lifestyle intervention with diabetes support and education .
The lifestyle intervention plan consisted of frequent diet and exercise counselling with the aim of cutting daily calorie intake from 1800 to 1200 and increasing physical activity to just under three hours per week.
Among the 4503 overweight or obese adults with type 2 diabetes included in the study, participants in the intensive lifestyle intervention group were more likely to experience at least a partial remission of their diabetes after one year than those in the support and education group.
The researchers found that 11.5 per cent of participants who made intensive changes to their lifestyle lowered their blood sugars back to a normal or pre-diabetes level without the use of diabetes medication, compared to just two per cent of those in the non-intervention group.
However, less than one-third of people whose diabetes went into remission during the study managed to maintain their reduced blood sugar levels for at least four years, indicating that complete remission is not possible through diet and exercise alone.
“This is the largest study to our knowledge to examine the association of a lifestyle intervention with type 2 diabetes remissio,” the authors said.
“Our findings suggest that an intensive lifestyle intervention may be associated with a partial diabetes remission in a subset of patients with type 2 diabetes, particularly those whose diabetes is of short duration, who have lower HbA1c levels, and who do not yet require insulin therapy.”

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