Type 2 diabetes: Is the health condition reversible?

Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body doesn’t create enough (or functioning) insulin – a hormone that enables cells to absorb blood sugar for energy. But is the condition reversible?

Diabetes UK have been conducting groundbreaking research on type 2 diabetes remission.

Remission describes when someone who suffers from type 2 diabetes has “healthy blood sugar levels without needing to take any diabetes medication”.

The charity’s DiRECT (Diabetes Remission Clinical Trial) has seen type 2 diabetes remission is possible with significant weight loss.


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“The strongest evidence suggests that a low-calorie diet could help people lose weight and go into remission,” said Diabetes UK.

In their study, Diabetes UK added: “The first year results showed it’s possible for some people to put their type 2 diabetes into remission using a low-calorie, diet-based, weight management programme, delivered by their GP.”

Speaking about its volunteers, the charity said: “Almost half (45.6 percent) of those who took part in the programme were in remission after a year.

“The second year results of the trial showed that, of these people, 70 percent were still in remission by the end of year two.”

With such promising results, NHS England have already began piloting the low-calorie management programme – to encourage remission – in late 2019.

Scotland are currently busy rolling out the same remission programme right now.

The director of the DiRECT research, Dr Elizabeth Robertson, said: “These results further challenge the perception that type 2 diabetes needs to be a lifelong condition for everyone diagnosed with it.

“We know type 2 diabetes is a complex condition, and this approach will not work for everyone.

“That’s why we’re continuing to invest in further research, to understand the biology underlying remission and find ways to make remission a reality for as many people as possible.”

The research charity use the term “remission”, as diabetes can come back. Remission isn’t possible for everyone with type 2 diabetes.

At present, those who are in remission have a blood sugar reading of 48mmol/mol or less.

Diabetes UK recommends speaking to a healthcare professional if you intend to lose weight with the intention of entering remission


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The DiRECT study reports: “Two thirds (64 percent) of those who lost more than 10 kilos were in remission after two years.”

It’s also noteworthy to mention that some people went into remission by eating a Mediterranean diet or a low-carb diet.

Additionally, as everybody is unique, what may work for one person may not work for another.

At present, medication is a solution to controlling blood sugar levels.

The strength of the medication is based upon how high your blood sugar levels are.

There are a range of tablets available from a GP, with one such medication – usually administered first – being metformin.

This drug enables the body to better respond to insulin, whereas sulphonylureas prompts the pancreas to produce more insulin.

Insulin and incretin mimetic are injectable medications which are also available.

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