An NHS-backed low-calorie soup and shake diet could helped to “turn the tide on type 2 diabetes” after medical experts reported promising early results from a trial of the programme.
Latest figures show that the diet can put type 2 diabetes into remission for at least five years, with experts saying the results add to growing evidence that changes to lifestyle are key to beating the disease, rather than medication.
With the aiming of helping people lose weight and keep it off, the programme saw participants follow a daily 800-calorie soup and shake diet for 12 to 20 weeks.
They were encouraged to reintroduce healthy foods and keep the weight off through support from a nurse or dietician.
At the same time, type 2 diabetes and blood pressure medication was halted.
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The latest data shows that almost 25% of those who were in remission two years after starting the programme remained so three years later.
The number of participants in remission five years after the start of the original study was treble that of a control group that received standard care from their GP.
Dr Elizabeth Robertson, director of research at Diabetes UK which funded the study, said the results demonstrate that staying in diabetes remission long term is achievable.
She said: “For those who put type 2 diabetes into remission, it can be life-changing, offering a better chance of a healthier future.
“For those that aren’t able to go into remission, losing weight can still lead to major health benefits, including improved blood sugar levels, and reduced risk of serious diabetes complications such as heart attack and stroke.”
Cases of type 2 diabetes have risen significantly in the last 10 years, alongside rates of obesity.
It has led to health chiefs targeting lifestyles to encourage long-term weight loss and reduce the risk of serious health problems.
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The team behind this latest trial report that those taking part in the programme saw greater improvements in both their blood pressure and blood sugar levels.
They also found that fewer participants needed medication compared to the control group, while hospital admissions due to serious health problems among those on the soup and shake diet was less than half than the control group.
It has also been revealed that UK diabetes cases have risen to more than 5 million for the first time, with type 2 diabetes making up around 90% of cases.