Posted on 08 Sep 2020 Views 5816 Comments 24
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.
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.
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:
Written by Annemarie Aburrow RD BSc (Hons) PGDip, Slim & Save Dietitian.
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.
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Based on the Slim & Save customers who are using the Weight Tracker Application. (Data auto-updated at 5am each day).