Losing weight is key to preventing or reversing type 2 diabetes, according to a major study involving nearly half a million people.

The University of Cambridge trial has shown the condition, commonly associated with poor lifestyle, could be avoided if more people kept their weight in a healthy range or below that target.

Lead researcher Professor Brian Ference said their findings of the study could have “significant implications” for screening, preventing and treating type 2 diabetes.

The trial involved dividing up the 445,765 participants into five groups relating to their genetic risk of diabetes and five groups according to their body mass index (BMI).

The research team discovered the group of those with the highest BMI had an 11-fold increased risk of diabetes compared to the lowest BMI group.

Professor Ference, who unveiled the research results at the annual European Society of Cardiology (ESC) Congress, said: “The findings indicate that BMI is a much more powerful risk factor for diabetes that genetic predisposition.

“This suggests that when people cross a certain BMI threshold, their chances of diabetes go up and stay at that same high-risk level regardless of how long they are overweight. You can prevent most cases of diabetes by keeping BMI below a person’s threshold.”

What the results have also shown is that everyone has a different BMI threshold depending on their height and build. This explains why some people who are a healthy weight develop the condition and some who are overweight do not.

Professor Ference added: “You can prevent most cases of diabetes by keeping BMI below a person’s threshold.

“But it (the study) also implies something that we haven’t focused on in the past and that is we can also probably reverse most cases of diabetes if we lower somebody’s BMI aggressively below their BMI threshold relatively soon after they develop diabetes.

“I think the fact that BMI appears to have a threshold rather than a cumulative effect on the risk of diabetes really has potentially significant implications for how we think about changing screening, preventing, treating and reversing diabetes.”

The multi-award-winning Low Carb Program is demonstrated to help patients with type 2 diabetes, prediabetes and obesity sustainably lose weight, improve blood glucose control and reduce diabetes medications. At 1 year, peer-reviewed research shows 26% of participants who completed the program were in remission. 

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