A PILL made from leaves of the olive tree could head off diabetes.
The olive pill reduces insulin sensitivity – a precursor to diabetes – by 15 per cent, according to a study of men who were overweight and at high risk of developing the condition.
About 3.7 million people in Britain have diabetes and nine out of ten have Type 2, the form associated with obesity and unhealthy lifestyles. The charity Diabetes UK estimates that the number of people with the condition will soar to 4.4 million by 2020 as the obesity epidemic takes its toll.
Trials of the olive pill show it works almost as well as a prescription tablet widely used to control blood sugar levels. Researchers believe the natural pill will be even more effective in patients with full-blown diabetes.
Insulin resistance is a major risk factor. Professor Wayne Cutfield, from Auckland University, who led the study, said: “People who are insulin-resistant don’t use it properly and have to keep producing more and more insulin to control glucose levels in the blood.
“Eventually your pancreas cannot keep making it and you get diabetes.”