Remission of Type 2 Diabetes with Weight Loss

In a new study presented at the 2022 meeting of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes and described in an article at Healio, adults with normal to slightly overweight body weight and who lost 10% of their body weight were highly likely to have type 2 diabetes remission — having normal blood glucose levels without taking any glucose-lowering medications.

The prevalence of type 2 diabetes remission may be higher than previously believed, and weight loss may play an essential role in this process. It has been shown that bariatric (weight-loss) surgery promotes remission of type 2 diabetes and prediabetes, and the likelihood of remission is influenced by how much weight people lose. A low-calorie diet and meal replacements have also been found to be effective for weight loss and diabetes remission, and vital medical associations have acknowledged that dietary approaches may lead to remission. Recent studies have even demonstrated that artificial intelligence can help tailor lifestyle interventions to individuals to increase their chances of remission from diabetes.

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Researchers at Newcastle University in England have examined the effects of weight loss on people with a body mass index (BMI, a measure of body weight that takes height into account) of 21 to 27 and their body weight in what is widely considered a “healthy” range. This BMI range is found in about 15% of people newly diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. 20 participants with type 2 diabetes and a BMI in this range, whose average age was 59, were recruited. Participants followed a low-calorie diet three times to lose 5% of their body weight. A meal-replacement formula and low-starch vegetables were consumed daily during each weight-loss cycle. During this weight-loss process, 20 participants without diabetes also participated, allowing the researchers to compare their results.

Healthy BMI and weight loss are linked to diabetes remission.

At six months and 12 months of follow-up, type 2 diabetes participants lost an average of 7.7 kilograms (17.0 pounds), or 10.7% of their starting body weight. Compared to participants without diabetes, men with diabetes had a lower waist measurement and body fat level. However, women with diabetes still had a higher waist measurement and body fat level. However, it is essential to note that 70% of participants with type 2 diabetes experienced remission of their disease, similar to previous studies of weight loss in people with overweight or obese.

Weight loss may lead to diabetes remission in people with “healthy” body weight if they have too much fat in their liver and pancreas, researchers found. After 24 weeks of following the weight-loss protocol, participants with type 2 diabetes had 2.5 times as much liver fat on average as participants without diabetes. Before diabetes remission occurred, participants’ blood glucose control improved as their liver and pancreas fat volume decreased.

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In this study, the researchers showed that remissions from type 2 diabetes could be achieved through weight loss, even in people with “healthy” body weights – an approach many doctors would not have recommended in the past.