A new study from Newcastle University finds that people with type 2 diabetes can reverse their condition for up to six months after eating a very low calorie diet (VLCD) for eight weeks.
This is the latest research from Professor Roy Taylor, Newcastle University, who found in a 2011 study that type 2 diabetes can be reversed by eating 800 calories per day for eight weeks.
Three months later, seven of the 11 participants were free of type 2 diabetes. But questions remained as to whether this reversal of type 2 diabetes – which occurred because weight loss led to fat removal from the pancreas, restoring insulin production to normal – can be achieved in the longer-term.
In this new study, Taylor’s team recruited 30 volunteers with type 2 diabetes. The diabetes duration of participants ranged between six months and 23 years. All oral medication and insulin was stopped before the study began.
The participants had the same diet of 600 to 700 calories a day for eight weeks. Glucose control, insulin sensitivity, insulin secretion and hepatic and pancreas fat were all monitored.
Overall, 12 patients who had type 2 diabetes for less than 10 years managed to reverse their condition. After six months, their insulin production remained normal and the condition remained reversed. At this stage, another 13th patient then reversed their type 2 diabetes.
Taylor said: “What we have shown is that it is possible to reverse your diabetes, even if you have had the condition for a long time, up to around 10 years. If you have had the diagnosis for longer than that, then don’t give up hope – major improvement in blood sugar control is possible.”
Participants lost an average of 14 kilograms (just over 2st) during the eight-week study, and after six months they did not regain any weight, which is crucial in ensuring that remission is achieved in the long-term. Patients who regain lost weight after following a VLCD can end up back on medication.
“The study also answered the question that people often ask me – if I lose the weight and keep the weight off, will I stay free of diabetes? The simple answer is ‘yes’,” said Taylor.
“Interestingly, even though all our volunteers remained obese or overweight, the fat did not drift back to clog up the pancreas. The bottom line is that if a person really wants to get rid of their type 2 diabetes, they can lose weight, keep it off and return to normal.
“This is good news for people who are very motivated to get rid of their diabetes. But it is too early to regard this as suitable for everyone. That is a separate question and a major study is underway to answer this.”
The findings appear in the online journal Diabetes Care.

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