Study: lower-calorie diet and exercise led to diabetes remission in 61% of patients16 Jun 2020
A new study from Qatar published in the Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology journal found that lifestyle intervention that focused on a low-calorie diet and exercise let to diabetes remission in 61% of patients.
The study was launched to explore the hypothesis that abdominal fat accumulation and its resulting inhibition of insulin-producing cells can be reversed through weight loss. Diabetes remission was the secondary effect of this lifestyle change.
According to the team leading the study, which was conducted over a 12-month period, this is the first such lifestyle-intervention approach to explore the effects of weight loss on diabetes in the Middle East and Northern Africa.
The study randomly separated 158 participants into a control group and a group slated to undergo an intensive lifestyle transformation. Of those who were put in the group with a modified lifestyle, 21% achieved more than 15% weight loss from their starting weight compared with 1% of participants in the control group. The average weight loss for those in the modified lifestyle group was 12 kilograms.
In addition to shedding kilograms, 33% of participants in the intervention group returned to a state of normoglycaemia – when blood glucose levels return to normal – compared with 4% of participants in the control group.
This research brings into question the conventional consensus that damaged insulin-secreting cells from the pancreas are irreparable. These findings show that this may not be the case. If the findings from this study are replicated, the current treatments for Type 2 diabetes that are geared toward controlling blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar through drugs may not be the only options for patients in the future.
The findings in this study are particularly important in the Middle East where obesity rates are rising. In Qatar, where this study was performed, obesity rates sit at 41.4% of the adult population, according to the Ministry of Public Health. Of those who are overweight, 15.5% have diabetes as of 2020 with that figure expected to jump to 25% by 2050, per data from the International Diabetes Federation.
Having a non-invasive method to reverse the progress of this chronic disease is likely to be a welcome option for a population that will continue to combat its onset and the public health consequences therefrom.
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