Diabetes Type 2 is a common and widespread disease and it is clearly related to overweight and obesity. The clinical manifestation of diabetes is also related to age. While only 2-3% of people under the age of 50 are afflicted, the prevalence of diabetes is rising continually with the progress of age. At an age of over 70 years, almost 20% are afflicted. So if we speak of a typical Person with diabetes, we think of an elderly person with long-time overweight. But in the last decades also younger people showed an increasing prevalence of diabetes. This may be due to an incline of obesity in our society and due to altered eating habits and less activity today.
While patients with diabetes often suffer under symptoms like chronic fatigue, polyuria and an increase of their thirst, diabetes itself can lead to other secondary illnesses in the long run. It weakens the immune-systems and makes the afflicted person more susceptible for systemic and local infections. It reduces the body’s capacity of healing, so that often time’s chronic wounds are prevalent. Furthermore Diabetes multiplies the risk of developing severe illnesses like stroke, heart-attack, kidney-failure and blindness.
This makes clear how essential it is, to treat the disease well and prevent further damage to the body. While older people often are treated with pills and if necessary also with insulin, especially younger people should be encouraged to change their lifestyle which can improve and in some cases even reverse their diabetes.
A recent study in England addressed the question, to what extend the loosing of weight can influence the diabetes. For this study they recruited 149 people at an age between 20 and 65 and a Body-Mass-Index between 27 and 45 that were diagnosed with non – Insulin – dependent Diabetes in the last 6 years. They gave them a special Formula-low-calorie-Diet which helped them to loose weight. Afterwards they got support in not gaining weight again. The participants of the study got no Diabetes-Medication at all. The results are astonishing: After 1 year 7% of 89 Persons that lost 0-5 kg decreased their diabetes, but already 34% of 56 Persons that had lost 5-10 kg completely reversed their diabetes! 28 people that lost 10-15 kg, 57% of them reversed their diabetes and with the 36 people that lost over 15 kg even 86% of them diabetes was completely reversed. The interesting thing was, that these effects were the same no matter how high the starting-level of obesity was. For example a person that lost from 130 to 115 kg had the same positive effects like a person that lost from 110 to 95 kg.
Altogether almost half of the participants of the study did not only reverse their diabetes, they also felt much better and gained more quality in life. These results are really encouraging and they shall activate us to motivate Patients in their efforts to adapt to a healthy lifestyle. We should support them in losing weight which by itself can lead to an improvement or even a reverse of diabetes. It will make them feel much better and prevent the emergency of secondary diseases. All together it is the healthiest, cheapest and most natural medication we can offer. Patients should be taught that it is worth it to take responsibility for your life and become active.
Source: Lean MEJ, et al. Durability of a primary care-led weight-management intervention for remission of type 2 diabetes: 2-year results of the DiRECT open-label, cluster-randomised trial. Lancet Diabetes Endocrinol 2019;7:344–55.