Patients from NHS Lothian participated in what is believed to be the first trial in the world that has successfully reversed the effects of type 2 diabetes.
The project, run by researchers at the universities of Glasgow and Newcastle, required patients to follow a rigid, calorie-restricted diet that was closely supervised by the trial team.
Among those selected to take part was Sandy Boggan, from North Berwick, who was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes six years ago.
Mr Boggan, a chef who worked on North Sea oil rigs for 30 years, said: “The trial was really tough but worth it – I’m fitter than I’ve been, I have more energy and I no longer have to take medication to counter the effects of my diabetes; I’m delighted.
“When I was told I had diabetes six years ago I was really worried about how it would affect my job – you get regular medical tests on the rigs to see you’re fit, and I was petrified they’d tell me I couldn’t work any more.
“Fortunately that wasn’t the case, though it certainly could be for jobs designated as safety sensitive. I still needed to do all I could to tackle it because diabetes can make you feel very lethargic and tired.”
The three-month diet consisted of soup and shakes, which were supplied by the researchers. At the end of three months, other foods were introduced gradually, building up to a maximum of 1,600 calories a day.
Mr Boggan, 60, also embarked on an exercise programme.
At the end of the trial the chef said he was “astonished” to learn that his diabetes had gone into remission. He said he also lost around three stones in weight.
The news comes at a time when the number of cases of type 2 diabetes is soaring, linked to the rise in obesity – fat which accumulates in the abdomen prevents the proper function of the pancreas.
It can lead to serious and life-threatening complications, including blindness, foot amputations, and heart and kidney disease.
Alison Diamond and Laurie Eyles, who work for the NHS Lothian Weight Management Service, said they were delighted with the progress of all their patients who took part in the trial.
Ms Diamond said: “Type 2 diabetes is often seen as a less serious type of diabetes because you don’t need to take daily insulin injections. However, it is a serious condition which can have a huge impact on people’s lives.
“There is a real opportunity here for the trial to be developed so that it helps more people with this condition.”