Over a third of participants on an NHS weight management programme who put their type 2 diabetes into remission are still free from the condition two years on, new research has confirmed.

The two-year results from the Diabetes Remission Clinical Trial (DiRECT) also showed that just under 80% of participants who had achieved remission at 12 months maintained this at 24 months.

The research from Newcastle University and the University of Glasgow showed how type 2 diabetes remission was closely associated with weight loss. Two-thirds of participants who lost more than 10kg, or a stone and a half, continued to be free from type 2 diabetes 24 months later.

The DiRECT weight management programme involves consuming a liquid 800-calorie diet of processed soups and shakes, along with non-starchy vegetables, for three to five months, before progressively reintroducing solid foods over a further two months. People who went through the DiRECT programme enjoyed an improved quality of life and required less type 2 diabetes medication.

The research backs up the one-year findings from our award-winning Low Carb Program, published last summer, which was shown to be “effective” in improving blood glucose control, weight loss and reducing diabetes medications. Many of the Low Carb Program community have lowered their HbA1c and lost weight as well as putting their type 2 diabetes into remission. In contrast to the DiRECT programme, the Low Carb Program focuses on eating real, minimally-processed foods.

The latest DiRECT results were revealed on Wednesday 6 March at the Diabetes UK Professional Conference, and have also been published in The Lancet. They build on initial findings released in December 2017, which showed that 46% of participants were in remission for type 2 diabetes after 12 months, with 70% still in remission 24 months later. Remission was defined as long-term HbA1c of less than 48 mmol/mol (6.5%) without needing blood glucose-lowering treatments.

One of the lead researchers in the study Professor Roy Taylor, from Newcastle University, said: “These results are a significant development, and finally pull down the curtain on the era of type 2 diabetes as an inevitably progressive disease.

“We now understand the biological nature of this reversible condition. However, everyone in remission needs to know that evidence to date tells us that your Type 2 diabetes will return if you regain weight.

“Even during the second year of freedom from type 2 diabetes there was a highly suggestive difference in major complications of diabetes. The numbers are still small at the moment, and further information on this must be gathered during the planned longer-term follow up.”

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