Weight loss is the key in battling type 2 diabetes, study reveals

Type 2 diabetes and obesity have been linked to each other. People who are overweight or obese are at a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes, which is a chronic disease characterized by increased blood sugar levels.

This type of diabetes can lead to serious complications, if it’s not reversed or controlled, including vision loss, heart and vessel disease, nerve damage, kidney damage, hearing impairment, and heightened risk of having heart disease, stroke, hypertension, and atherosclerosis.

Image Credit: Jeanette Teare / Shutterstock
Image Credit: Jeanette Teare / Shutterstock

Type 2 diabetes is preventable and treatable if it’s controlled early. In a new study by researchers at the University of Cambridge found that losing at least 10 percent of weight in the first five years of being diagnosed can help reverse type 2 diabetes and help patients go in remission.

Obesity of the biggest risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes, which affected 422 million in 2014, compared to 108 million in 1980. It has caused 1.5 million deaths in 2012, and in the United Kingdom, an estimated 3.8 million people have diabetes.

The reason why type 2 diabetes rates are on the rise is that people are getting fatter and becoming more physically inactive. About 90 percent of adults with type 2 diabetes are either overweight or obese. People who are obese are also more likely to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes than those who are not.

The team of researchers conducted the study to quantify the link between behavior change and weight loss after being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, and the chance of remission of diabetes after a five-year follow-up. They found that patients who shed 10 percent or more of their body weight in the first five years, had the biggest chance of reversing their diagnosis.

Weight loss is effective in tackling the disease

To land to their findings, the researchers performed a prospective cohort study in 867 people who are newly diagnosed with diabetes and who are between the ages of 40 and 69 years old. To identify the participants, the researchers used the data acquired from a stepwise screening from 2002 to 2006.

The participants underwent an assessment of weight change, diet, physical activity, and alcohol consumption at baseline and at 1 year after being diagnosed. After 5 years, the team examined remission by testing for HbA1c levels.

"We've known for some time now that it's possible to send diabetes into remission using fairly drastic measures such as intensive weight loss programs and extreme calorie restriction. These interventions can be very challenging to individuals and difficult to achieve,” Dr Hajira Dambha-Miller of Cambridge's Department of Public Health and Primary Care, and lead author of the study said.

"But our results suggest that it may be possible to get rid of diabetes, for at least five years, with a more modest weight loss of 10 per cent. This will be more motivating and hence more achievable for many people,” she added.

The researchers now recommend that people need to understand the importance of managing one’s weight through increased physical activity such as engaging in exercise, and diet modification like calorie restriction.

Wellcome, a research charity, the National Institute for Health Research, and the Medical Research Council have funded the study. The researchers are working on a new study to help shed light on how type 2 diabetes patients can attain and maintain weight loss.

Understanding type 2 diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is the most common type of diabetes, occurring when the blood glucose level is too high. The body uses blood glucose as the major source of energy. It comes primarily from food intake. Insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas, is the main vehicle of glucose to enter the cells for energy consumption.

But in people with type 2 diabetes, the cells don’t normally respond to insulin, which is called insulin resistance. Since the cells become resistant to glucose, it leads to increased blood sugar levels, and eventually, diabetes develops.

The common signs and symptoms of type 2 diabetes include increased hunger, fatigue, increased urination and thirst, blurred vision, and unexplained weight loss. Usually, the symptoms of type 2 diabetes develop slowly. In some cases, people don’t realize they have the illness until they develop diabetes-related health problems, like heart disease, blurred vision, and kidney disease, among others.

Source:
Journal reference:

Behaviour change, weight loss and remission of Type 2 diabetes: a community‐based prospective cohort study H. Dambha‐Miller A. J. Day J. Strelitz G. Irving S. J. Griffin, First published: 03 September 2019 https://doi.org/10.1111/dme.14122, https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/dme.14122

Angela Betsaida B. Laguipo

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Angela Betsaida B. Laguipo

Angela is a nurse by profession and a writer by heart. She graduated with honors (Cum Laude) for her Bachelor of Nursing degree at the University of Baguio, Philippines. She recently completed a Master's Degree where she specialized in Maternal and Child Nursing and is now working as a clinical instructor and educator in the School of Nursing at the University of Baguio.

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