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Can you reverse your type 2 diabetes

Can you reverse your type 2 diabetes?


Type 2 diabetes has traditionally been known as a life-long, progressive condition with various associated health complications. However, recent research has shown that type 2 diabetes can be ‘reversed’ through significant weight loss, allowing many people to achieve healthy blood glucose levels and come off their diabetes medication. Here we’ll explain what diabetes remission is and how you could reverse your type 2 diabetes with the Counterweight-Plus programme.

What is diabetes remission?

So what does achieving diabetes remission actually mean? If you have type 2 diabetes, it’s when your blood glucose levels are back in a healthy range and you don’t need to take any diabetes medication. Your blood sugar levels would be considered healthy when your HbA1c is less than 48mmol/ml. It’s important to note that we use the term ‘remission’ instead of ‘cure’ because your diabetes can still come back over time. We know that losing type 2 diabetes remission is strongly associated with weight regain, and we’ll go into this in greater detail below.

How can I put my diabetes into remission?

Evidence suggests that the key to achieving type 2 diabetes remission is weight loss. The strongest evidence on the impact of weight loss on diabetes remission comes from the DiRECT study (Diabetes Remission Clinical Trial). This study was conducted by Professor Roy Taylor at Newcastle University and Professor Mike Lean at the University of Glasgow. This study aimed to assess whether following our Counterweight-Plus programme could help people to achieve a weight loss of at least 15kg and achieve type 2 diabetes remission.

298 people, all overweight and diagnosed with type 2 diabetes within the previous 6 years took part in the study. Half of the participants received the standard NHS care for type 2 diabetes and the other half followed the Counterweight-Plus programme. This involved following a low-energy total diet replacement of around 850 calories a day, made up of four soups or shakes for 12 weeks. After the total diet replacement stage, the participants received ongoing support from a Dietitian or trained healthcare professional to slowly reintroduce nutritionally balanced meals and alter their eating and activity behaviours to maintain their weight loss in the long term. 

The results showed that after one year:
  • People who completed the Counterweight-Plus programme lost an average of 10kg, whereas people who received standard NHS treatment only lost an average of 1kg
  • Around ¾ of people who lost at least 10kg through the Counterweight-Plus programme achieved diabetes remission
  • Half of the people that followed the Counterweight-Plus programme were successful in stopping their diabetes medication
  • 9/10 people who were able to lose 15kg or more achieved diabetes remission, indicating that the more weight that you are able to lose, the more likely you are to put your diabetes into remission

DiRECT Clinical Trial

How does losing weight lead to diabetes remission?

To answer this question, let’s take a closer look at how type 2 diabetes develops. Many people with type 2 diabetes carry extra weight around their stomach. This can cause fat to build up around important organs like the liver and pancreas. The pancreas is home to beta cells, which produce your body’s insulin. Excess fat in the pancreas causes these beta-cells to stop working, leading to type 2 diabetes.

How does losing weight lead to diabetes remission
The good news is, this process is reversible! When you lose weight, the fat around the liver and pancreas reduces, which helps the beta cells to start working normally again. This means your body is able to produce insulin normally, which helps your blood sugar levels to return to a healthy range and put your type 2 diabetes into remission.

Pathology of remission
We know that not everyone with type 2 diabetes is overweight, factors such as age, ethnicity and family history can all play a role in developing type 2 diabetes. However, weight is the only one of these factors that we are able to change. That’s why we focus so much on achieving and maintaining a healthy weight for the prevention and management of type 2 diabetes.

Will I definitely go into remission if I lose weight?

Results from the DiRECT trial indicate that 9/10 people who lost 15kg or more were able to achieve type 2 diabetes remission. Unfortunately, there are a small number of people who are not able to achieve diabetes remission despite losing a significant amount of weight. What we know is that the longer someone has had diabetes, the more difficult it is for them to achieve remission. As we discussed above, when you have type 2 diabetes the beta cells in your pancreas are damaged. Over time, this damage gets progressively worse, meaning that after a certain amount of time it may not be possible to restore their normal function.

The key thing to take away from this is that the sooner you take action to lose weight after you are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, the more likely you are to achieve diabetes remission. It is also important to remember that even if you don’t achieve diabetes remission, there are many other benefits to losing weight. Losing as little as 5% of your body weight can:
Benefits of weight loss

Is remission permanent?

As we already mentioned, type 2 diabetes can't be ‘cured’, meaning that it is always possible for your diabetes to return. What we know is that people who can maintain their weight loss long term are more likely to stay in diabetes remission. You can read more about long term diabetes remission here.

Key things to remember

  • Type 2 diabetes doesn’t have to be a permanent condition, it is possible to go into remission
  • The most effective way to achieve diabetes remission is by losing weight
  • The more weight that you are able to lose, the more likely you are to achieve diabetes remission
  • The Counterweight-Plus programme has been scientifically proven to help people achieve significant weight loss and put their diabetes into remission
  • The earlier you take action the better, click here to find out more about how you can start the programme!


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