Media Spotlight: New NHS trial on diabetes reversal - Slim & Save
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Posted on 08 Sep 2020 Views 5816 Comments 24

Media Spotlight: New NHS trial on diabetes reversal

Type 2 diabetes in a very common health condition in the UK, particularly among people who are overweight or obese. It is estimated to cost the health service £10 billion a year, and around one in ten prescriptions is for diabetes treatment. The current coronavirus pandemic has also put diabetes in the spotlight - it is thought that people with diabetes are twice as likely to die from Covid-19, and that around a third of Covid-19 deaths are people with diabetes.

It has always been thought that once you have been given a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes, that’s it for life. However, there is emerging evidence to suggest that diabetes could be reversed by following a very low calorie diet (VLCD). VLCDs (of which the Slim & Save plans are examples of) cause rapid weight loss by restricting carbohydrate intake to a level that induces ‘ketosis’ – a state where the body breaks down fat into ‘ketones’ to provide energy, causing rapid weight loss. Back in 2018, results from the DiRECT trial suggested there may be a role for using VLCDs as a first-line approach to weight loss, particularly upon diagnosis of type 2 diabetes. This resulted in plenty of media coverage. The BBC aired ‘The Big Crash Diet Experiment’ (which followed four volunteers who all lost significant weight over nine weeks on the diet, with one person losing 20% of their body weight, and putting their diabetes into remission) and ITV featured ‘Fast-Fix Diabetes’ (which followed five volunteers who all significantly reduced their blood sugar levels, with one person reversing their diabetes, after eight weeks on the diet).

The NHS has now enrolled 5000 people in a new trial, where patients are restricted to a diet of 800 kcal a day, using VLCD products like soups, shakes and bars (similar to those consumed on our Slim & Save plans). The trial aims to assess whether following a calorie restricted diet can reverse diabetes.

Key points about the new trial

  • It is a large trial, involving 5000 patients, all of whom have had a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes within the last six years
  • There are seven NHS sites across England taking part
  • The trial is split into two phases – phase one involves patients following an 800kcal restricted diet for three months
  • The second phase involves a healthy diet and exercise routine being reintroduced for the following nine months. This is being done through the support of ‘nutritionists’, who have received training from a specialist multi-disciplinary team (including dietitians)
  • Patients will be supported via virtual one-to-one sessions, group sessions and digital support

So… Can diabetes be reversed?

Research has shown us that type 2 diabetes can be put into ‘remission’, which is when blood sugar levels remain below the diabetic range and the person no longer needs to take medication. To be classed as ‘in remission’, the person should have normal blood sugar control and be free of medication for at least six months. Research also shows us that losing 15kg significantly increases your chances of remission, and doing this closer to the time of diagnosis also increases chances.

The term ‘reversal’ is not a particularly helpful term, as it implies that diabetes can be cured. If a person whose diabetes is in remission starts gaining weight again, or eating a poor diet, their diabetes is likely to come back.

This new trial will help to increase the evidence base for diabetes remission, and may lead to VLCDs being available on prescription in the future.

What does this all mean for me?

If you have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, and are currently following (or are considering starting) a Slim & Save programme, here are our main take-home points:

  • To see a mass trial like this being run by (and funded by) the NHS, provides confidence to people wondering if following a Slim & Save plan will have beneficial effects for them, both in terms of weight loss and also diabetes control – if positive results are seen from this trial, it’s likely that it would be rolled out further
  • If you are overweight or obese (BMI over 25) and have diabetes or another significant weight related health condition, a VLCD may be the best solution for you (especially if you have tried conventional diets in the past)
  • Always consult with your GP to check your suitability prior to starting a VLCD
  • It appears that to have the best chance of putting your diabetes into remission, you should lose weight (through following a VLCD) as soon as possible after diagnosis. Current evidence suggests that the longer you have had diabetes, the less likely you will be able put it into remission
  • Losing weight on Slim & Save may mean you need to reduce your diabetes treatment (medication or insulin). Don’t forget to regularly check your blood glucose control and seek advice from your GP or specialist nurse (check out our other article Considerations for people with diabetes.
  • Following a VLCD requires a huge amount of support – make sure you enlist support from family and friends, as well as making use of Slim & Save’s support team and forums to help you stay motivated and on track
  • Annemarie Aburrow RD BSc (Hons) PGDipOnce you come off Slim & Save, it’s really important that you don’t just go back to your previous diet, as this will cause you to regain the weight you’ve lost. You will also need to increase your physical activity (exercise) levels to keep the weight off. Support and advice are also really important for this stage. Check out our weight maintenance plans and other articles on weight maintenance
  • Written by Annemarie Aburrow RD BSc (Hons) PGDip, Slim & Save Dietitian.

    3 Lucky Customers Will Win 12 Ready-Made Chocolate Shakes!

    How do you feel about the up and coming VLCD Trials by the NHS? Leave your comments below to be in with a chance to win a box of 12 ready-made chocolate shakes. Three Winning comments will be chosen on Monday 14th September at 4 pm.

Comments on Media Spotlight: New NHS trial on diabetes reversal
Yvonne Sharples 23/09/2020 12:00
I have type 2 diabetes, also NAFLD now in fibrosis stage I do not drink alcohol and I've tried all diets nothing seems to work. 15 years ago before I was diabetic I lost 5 stone using lipotrim shakes I felt great but I've tried them and just can't seem to do it again so I'm hoping that trying the simplicity 4 a day plan will help me I'm taking metformin and novamix insulin twice a day I'm going to keep my eye on my glucose levels and keep in contact with my gp to alter my insulin accordingly I really hope this works for me. Fingers crossed and good luck to all others who are trying these.
Leanne aspinall 14/09/2020 12:31
I was diagnosed as being pre diabetic and S& S totally changed this and brought my weight and numbers right down ,
Sacha Reilly 14/09/2020 11:51
I think this is a huge step in the right direction well done NHS England! Obesity is the scourge of modern Britain, and must cost the NHS millions each year. VLCD is not for everyone, but if it can put diabetes into Remission then why wouldn't you give it a try!?!
Lindsay 14/09/2020 11:51
I've watched my mum for the past 29 years yoyo diet and now she's suffering the consequences of carrying so much weight. My mum are her heaviest was 22st. I Watch her now struggle with mobility and various health concerns as a result of putting so much strain on her body. I've tried eatting a low calorie diets and it's never worked. So I came to SnS and I find it very easy to stay in control of what I eat. I want to prevent diabetes and other health issues that come with being over weight and i agree with the whole article that with a vlcd you can reverse diabetes.
Neil M 14/09/2020 10:45
It's very refreshing to see that the NHS are willing to consider new treatments.

Diet plans like Slim & Save are becoming more mainstream, which can only be a good thing.

I'll be keeping a keen eye on the outputs from the NHS trial. Fingers crossed that it is successful for the patients involved.
Ricky Sunshine 13/09/2020 23:39
I have a diagnosis of T2 and I have I had the results back from my three monthly Hb1c’s now 44 making me longer officially T2. Anything over 48 and you’re T2. My fasting blood glucose has gone from 15 to 8 (which is still not normal but bloody good for me) It has dropped and negated my need for metformin while I’ve been on Slim and Save. I still have a long way to go but would be happy to privately submit my NHS results to slim and save when I’m at goal weight. Also, my cholesterol is down from 7 to 5.5. My inflammation markers are down from 12 to 6 and my last scan of my liver showed that my NAFL was reduced. I fall off the SNS wagon occasionally but I avoid sugar and keep treats low carb. I feel great and as I’ve said would be happy to share my results when I’m closer to my destination ...nearer Christmas.
Ruth Hiley 13/09/2020 22:07
I’m a newbie starting this tomorrow and news that this is being trialled is very encouraging and has spurred me on. I’ve lost 6 stone through about 4 different diets over the last year and a half and despairing I’ve not lost any over the last 6 months.
So let’s hope, I have will power and I’m determined just hoping it suits me so I can loose another 5 stone to goal!
Annette Wilding 13/09/2020 18:44
What an absolutely great idea! We know it works, not sure why the NHS are only just grasping it to be honest? Yes the diet is hard, its mentally and physically challenging but its so worth it. The health benefits are immeasurable. I hope this means a dramatic reduction in diabetes in general for future generations
Amanda Turner 13/09/2020 08:12
At last is my initial response.
For years VLCD diets have been protrayed in a negative light, which is why when embarking on a journey one has always had negative comments from friends/family members. With this trial running and all the publicity around it at last people will understand how beneficial a vcld is and realised it is safe and a healthy way of doing it and not a fad! It's a pity it takes such measures but I for one am happy this type of weight loss plan is getting positive media representation. It's like the rest of the world has been let in on our fabulous secret.

It's good to see that this is being trialled by the NHS and I ahsv every confidence that this will help a lot of people.
Holly King 13/09/2020 07:04
I think this is brilliant and gives me confidence that this is a safe plan to follow I know it works but understand how drficult it is to stay focused they are really going to need the support but the results will save money for the NHS and more importantly have major health improvements, brilliant I'm all for it x

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