The number of people suffering from obesity-related diabetes has quadrupled in the past 40 years to more than 400 million people worldwide, but new research suggests a radical change in diet may reverse the effects of the disease.
In the small study from Newcastle University in England, researchers created an extremely low-calorie diet for 30 people living with Type 2 diabetes.
For eight weeks, patients consumed a daily 800-calorie diet consisting of three 200g liquid food supplements of soups or shakes, and 200g of non-starchy vegetables plus two to three litres of water.
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The results of the study, published in Diabetes Care, found the average weight loss among participants was about 14 kg and in some cases the diabetes disappeared.
Nearly half of the participants in the study had no symptoms of diabetes for six months after returning to a normal diet, according to the study.
Global Mortality for Type 2 Diabetes | HealthGrove
The disease, where the body doesn’t produce insulin normally, has been considered chronic and incurable, but the authors of the study hope to change that mindset.
“This is a radical change in our understanding of Type 2 diabetes,” Dr. Roy Taylor, a professor at Newcastle University and the study’s senior author, told the New York Times. “If we can get across the message that ‘yes, this is a reversible disease — that you will have no more diabetes medications, no more sitting in doctors’ rooms, no more excess health charges’ — that is enormously motivating.”
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The study found that most participants who experienced a reversal of the disease had diabetes for less than four years.
The World Health Organization released a report earlier this month that found the global increase in diabetes was caused by excessive weight, obesity, aging and the growing consumption of food and beverages that are high in sugar.
The WHO called for increased measures to reduce risk factors for diabetes and improve treatment.
“We need to rethink our daily lives: to eat healthily, be physically active and avoid excessive weight gain,” WHO director-general Dr. Margaret Chan, said in a statement.
The number of people with diabetes in Canada is expected to increase from roughly 1.4 million in 2000 to 2.4 million in 2016, according to a study published in the Canadian Journal of Diabetes.
The financial impact of diabetes on Canada’s health-care system will also increase from $4.66 billion in 2000 to $8.14 billion in 2016, according to the study.