New trial suggests that weight loss can reverse Type 2 diabetes
10/19/2018 // Ellaine Castillo // Views

Being overweight has long been associated with an increased risk for Type 2 diabetes, which is why weight loss is often recommended as a prevention and treatment method for this condition. However, no prior studies have determined if weight loss can indeed reverse Type 2 diabetes. According to a recent study published in The Lancet, losing weight can cause Type 2 diabetes patients to undergo remission.

Type 2 diabetes, also known as noninsulin-dependent diabetes, is a metabolic condition wherein the body becomes resistant to insulin or not enough insulin is produced for glucose metabolism. Lifestyle changes are often recommended for diabetes patients. These include following a healthy diet, exercising, and maintaining a healthy weight.

Although the relationship between weight loss and Type 2 diabetes remission was discovered in the previously mentioned clinical trial, the reason behind weight loss-induced diabetes remission was only established in 2018. This was determined by a group of researchers led by Dr. Roy Taylor from Newcastle University, who also spearheaded the initial clinical trial.

Participants in the clinical trial were either assigned to an intensive weight management program while the others were assigned to best-practice care, which served as the control group. After a year, the researchers observed that only 46 percent of the patients who underwent the weight loss program experienced remission. However, who responded to the program and those who didn't exhibited very similar conditions, which perplexed the researchers.


To determine why this occurred, the researchers compared metabolic factors like fat content, triglyceride concentration, and beta cell function in patients who experienced remission and those who didn't. Aside from an initial observation that non-responders had diabetes for a longer period of time, they also observed that there was one crucial difference: The responders experienced improvements in beta cell function.

The beta cells are responsible for insulin secretion, which typically occurs in two phases, with the first phase causing a spike in insulin levels. However, in Type 2 diabetes patients, the beta cells are overworked since they have to compensate for insulin resistance, causing them to have impaired function. In this study, the patients who did not respond to the weight loss program did not exhibit the first phase of insulin secretion, which was expected for diabetic patients. However, the responders were able to go through the first phase, indicating improved beta cell function.

From these results, the researchers determined that weight loss can effectively cause diabetes remission, proving that lifestyle changes are sufficient for treating Type 2 diabetes. (Related: Best weight-loss plan for diabetics: A huge breakfast but smaller lunch and dinner.)

Type 2 diabetes complications

It is important to treat diabetes as soon as possible. Otherwise, it could progress into crippling complications, such as the following:

  • Neuropathy – The presence of excess sugars can damage capillaries that provide blood to the nerves. If the nerves do not get enough nourishment, it can lead to feelings of numbness, burning, or pain. In addition, nerves involved in digestion can also be damaged, which could lead to nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.
  • Nephropathy – Blood vessel clusters in the kidney are also damaged in diabetic patients. When too much damage has been inflicted on the kidney, dialysis or kidney transplant may be required so that the blood can still be properly filtered.
  • Diabetic retinopathy – Some diabetic patients may develop blindness due to damage on retinal blood vessels. Aside from this, diabetic patients also have a higher risk for cataracts and glaucoma.

Learn more about the effects of weight loss on diabetes by visiting today.

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