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T2DM study

Study to assess whether low calorie diet can reverse T2DM

Study will recruit 140 type 2 diabetes patients who will consume 800 calories each day for eight to 20 weeks

UK researchers will soon begin a study to examine whether a 800 calorie a day diet can reverse type 2 diabetes. The £2.4 million project, supported by Diabetes UK, will be conducted by scientists at Newcastle University and the University of Glasgow and involve 140 type 2 diabetes patients. They will consume only 800 calories each day for eight to 20 weeks.

Approximately 3.8 million people in Britain have diabetes, with type 2 making up around 90% of cases. The figure includes about 850,000 individuals who have type 2 diabetes but are unaware. Seven million more Britons are at particular risk of developing the disease.

A previous study carried out at Newcastle University discovered a diet of 600 calories per day could put an end to type 2 diabetes in individuals new to the disease. The low calorie diet was found to decrease fat levels in the pancreas and liver, thus boosting insulin production. Only four of the 11 participants still had diabetes three months on 

Diabetes UK will now conduct a more thorough study with a greater follow up period that will delve deeper into the long term effects of low calorie diets.

"Type 2 diabetes will always be a serious health condition but perhaps it won't always be seen as a condition that people have to manage for the rest of their lives and that worsens inevitably over time,” said Diabetes UK head of research, Dr Matthew Hobbs. "The 2011 study and evidence from bariatric surgery has shown us that it can be put into remission. If we can do this safely, on a bigger scale and as part of routine care, then following a low calorie liquid diet would be a real game changer in terms of reducing people's risk of devastating health complications such as amputation and blindness."

In the new study, study participants will predominantly drink nutritionally complete liquid formula shakes. They will be taught how to alter their lifestyles for good as normal meals are phased back in. The findings will be put alongside the results of 120 individuals following current slimming recommendations across a two year follow up period.

Some of the participants will have MRI scans that will allow researchers to understand what is going on as the diet influences the body.

“We are exploring uncharted territory and along the way there will be challenges, details to unravel, and other questions to ask,” said Professor Roy Taylor, lead researcher at Newcastle University. “But I believe this study will lead to a quantum leap forward in our understanding of how best to manage type 2 diabetes.”

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