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Across the world, some 400 million people experience type 2 diabetes: a chronic health condition that can affect several major organs in your body, and eventually lead to heart disease, kidney damage, blindness, and more.

The good news is type 2 diabetes can often be avoided through managing your weight, exercising regularly, and eating a balanced diet – but even if you do develop the condition, it’s not necessarily permanent.

In recent years, research has shown that it’s possible to reverse a type 2 diabetes diagnosis and send the disease into remission, and now a new study demonstrates that recovering from the disease could be a lot easier than you think.

In a new study, the findings of which appear in the journal Diabetic Medicine, the researchers from Cambridge analysed data from 867 people aged 40–69 with newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes.

All of these individuals had enrolled in the ADDITION-Cambridge trial, a prospective study that assesses, among other factors, the effectiveness and helpfulness of diabetes screening.

Researchers followed the participants’ progress for a period of 5 years. By looking at the cohort’s medical data, the Cambridge team found that 257 individuals, or 30% of the participants, had diabetes in remission by the end of the 5-year period.

The point of interest? Participants who had achieved at least 10% weight loss within 5 years of type 2 diabetes diagnosis were more than twice as likely to experience remission at the 5-year follow-up, compared with individuals who had not lost any weight.

“We’ve known for some time now that it’s possible to send diabetes into remission using fairly drastic measures, such as intensive weight loss programs and extreme calorie restriction,” notes first author Hajira Dambha-Miller, Ph.D.

Yet, she adds, “These interventions can be very challenging to individuals and difficult to achieve.”

“But, our results suggest that it may be possible to get rid of diabetes, for at least 5 years, with a more modest weight loss of 10%. This will be more motivating and hence more achievable for many people,” said Dambha-Miller, PhD

According to the study’s senior author, Prof Simon Griffin, the current findings emphasize how important consistent dietary and lifestyle interventions are in managing, and even reversing, diabetes.

“This reinforces the importance of managing one’s weight, which can be achieved through changes in diet and increasing physical activity. Type 2 diabetes, while a chronic disease, can lead to significant complications, but as our study shows, can be controlled and even reversed,” he says.

While this research does offer more hope for individuals with type 2 diabetes, and the researchers suggest that remission ‘is achievable’ with moderate weight loss, other studies have shown that remission rates tend to remain very low.

For instance, earlier this year, a study of 10,059 individuals with type 2 diabetes found that, at the end of the 8-year study period, only 4.97% of these participants had achieved remission.

Going forward, Dambha-Miller and colleagues are planning to find out how healthcare professionals can best support individuals with type 2 diabetes to achieve weight loss and maintain a healthy weight, in view of this intervention’s role in reducing diabetes symptoms.

To do so, they have set up the Glucose-Lowering through Weight Management (GLoW) study, the aim of which is “to find out whether a tailored diabetes education and behavioural weight management program” would serve patients better than the current, education-only program offered by the U.K.’s National Health Service.

The researchers are currently recruiting participants for GLoW.

Source: Medical News Today

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