The most common form of diabetes could be put into remission with dieting and weight loss, a study has found.
Around half of those with Type 2 went into remission after 12 months using an intensive low calorie diet and no medication, according to the trial.
The vast majority of diabetes cases are Type 2, which is strongly linked to lifestyle – poor diet, excess weight and inactivity – as well as genetics.
About 300 people in Scotland and Tyneside took part in the Diabetes Remission Clinical Trial, funded by Diabetes UK.
Half received standard care from their GP, while the other half received a structured weight management programme.
Findings from the first year showed that about 46 per cent of those who took part in the diet programme were in remission after 12 months.
Participant Isobel Murray, 65, from North Ayrshire, lost more than 22kg and no longer needs diabetes medication.
She said: “I was on various medications which were constantly increasing and I was becoming more and more ill every day.
“When the doctors told me that my pancreas was working again, it felt fantastic, absolutely amazing.
“I don’t think of myself as a diabetic any more. I get all my diabetes checks done, but I don’t feel like a diabetic.”
The trial found that around 86 per cent of those who lost 15kg or more went into remission, compared with 4 per cent of the control group.
The findings, which will be published in The Lancet medical journal, also stated that 57 per cent who lost 10kg to 15kg and 34 per cent of those who lost 5kg to 10kg also went into remission.
Remission was defined as having blood glucose levels (HbA1c) of less than 6.5 per cent (48mmol/mol), with at least two months without any Type 2 diabetes medications.
Lead researcher Professor Roy Taylor, from Newcastle University, described the results as “very exciting” and said they could “revolutionise the way Type 2 diabetes is treated”.
“This builds on the work into the underlying cause of the condition, so that we can target management effectively,” he added.