This is how diabetes develops and how it can be stopped

This is how diabetes develops and how it can be stopped

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Diabetes often arises from an unhealthy lifestyle - and can be reversed

More and more people suffer from diabetes. Around 8 million people are said to be ill in Germany. Most patients suffer from type II, which is triggered by an unhealthy lifestyle. The causes are insufficient exercise, unhealthy eating and being overweight. A British science team from Newcastle University researched what the exact causes are and how the disease can be stopped without medication.

Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes

Around one in ten people in Germany suffer from the metabolic disease diabetes mellitus. About 90% of them suffer from type 2. In type 2 diabetes mellitus, blood sugar is poorly absorbed by the cells of our body.

The disease usually arises during life through an unhealthy lifestyle. Type 1 diabetes is mostly congenital and insulin production is fundamentally out of order here. Insulin is produced by cells in the pancreas. An unknown autoimmune process destroys these cells. In contrast to type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes has its own influence.

Problems with the early detection of type 2 diabetes

In contrast to type 1 disease, the symptoms in type 2 are very vague. With type 1 there are classic symptoms such as feeling thirsty, increased urination and weight loss. These are also anchored in most people's consciousness.

Symptoms in diabetes

The symptoms in type 2, however, are quite unspecific and, as a result, are recognized late in many cases. General symptoms such as fatigue, tiredness, general weakness, weight gain, frequent feeling of hunger and depressive moods accompany those affected for a long time without being recognized and not properly treated. So it happens that the disease can manifest itself.

In their research, scientists from Newcastle University and Glasgow University found that it is possible for sufferers to reverse their disease with type 2 diabetes if they eat a low-calorie diet. The experts published the results of their study in the English-language journal "The Lancet".

Belly fat can cause life-threatening complications

More and more people are suffering from type 2 diabetes. This is related to an advancing obesity epidemic, the doctors say. Fat accumulated in the abdomen prevents proper functioning of the pancreas. This could lead to serious and even life-threatening complications such as blindness, foot amputations, heart diseases and kidney diseases.

Weight loss led to remission of type 2 diabetes in nine out of ten patients

If people with type 2 diabetes lose weight, the experts say that this can reverse the disease. This means that those affected no longer have to take any medication and are also free from the symptoms and risks that normally arise from type 2 diabetes. Nine out of ten subjects who lost a total of 15 kg in weight or more experienced a remission of their type 2 diabetes, the authors say. This shows the important connection between diabetes and obesity, which has also been discovered in other studies.

Results could revolutionize the treatment of type 2 diabetes

The results of the current investigation are very promising. They could revolutionize the treatment of type 2 diabetes, explains Professor Roy Taylor from Newcastle University. Significant weight loss leads to reduced fat in the liver and pancreas, which allows these organs to return to their normal function. With a corresponding diet, many people with diabetes could be helped.

Losing weight can lead to permanent remission

Losing weight is not only associated with better treatment for type 2 diabetes, significant weight loss can actually lead to permanent remission, the experts explain. Worldwide, the number of people with type 2 diabetes has quadrupled in 35 years from 108 million in 1980 to 422 million in 2014. By 2040, an increase to 642 million is expected. In the United Kingdom, almost one in ten adults have type 2 diabetes.

Diabetes remission through calorie reduction is rarely discussed

Instead of addressing the root cause, the guidelines for treating type 2 diabetes focus on lowering blood sugar levels through drug therapy. Diet and lifestyle are also addressed, but diabetes remission through calorie reduction is rarely discussed, said Professor Taylor.

Bariatric surgery is more expensive and risky

An essential difference from other studies is that we recommended a diet for weight loss without increasing physical activity, the doctors explain. Increased daily activity is also important for long-term observation. So-called bariatric surgery (gastric size reduction, etc.) can achieve remission of diabetes in around three quarters of people, but such treatment is more expensive and risky and is only available to a small number of patients.

298 subjects participated in the study

For their study, the researchers examined 298 adults aged 20 to 65 years who had been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in the past six years. Half of the patients started on a very low-calorie diet, the remaining participants served as a control group. The subjects on a low-calorie diet had lost an average of 10 kg after one year. Almost half of these subjects were able to reverse their diabetic condition. In contrast, only four percent of the people in the control group were able to achieve remission.

Subjects only consumed 825 to 853 calories a day

The participants consumed 825 to 853 calories a day for a period of three to five months, accompanied by experts throughout and encouraged to exercise. Cognitive behavioral therapy was also carried out. Even if you have had type 2 diabetes for six years, remission of the disease is still possible, says Prof. Michael Lean from Glasgow University. In contrast to other approaches, the researchers focused on the need to maintain weight loss through diet and exercise in the long term.

Weight loss goals are achievable for many people

Very large weight losses caused by bariatric surgery are not necessary to reverse the disease, the researchers report. The weight loss goals are to be achieved by the new program for many people. The big challenge is rather the long-term avoidance of weight gain, the authors explain. (sb, as)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.


  • Prof. Michael EJ Lean, Wilma S. Leslie, Alison C. Barnes, Naomi Brosnahan, George Thom, Louise McCombie, Carl Peters, Sviatlana Zhyzhneuskaya, Ahmad Al-Mrabeh, Kieren G. Hollingsworth, Angela M. Rodrigues, Lucia Rehackova, Prof Ashley J. Adamson, Prof. Falko F Sniehotta, Prof. John C Mathers, Hazel M. Ross, Yvonne McIlvenna, Renae Stefanetti, Prof. Michael Trenell, Paul Welsh, Sharon Kean, Prof. Ian Ford: Primary care-led weight management for remission of type 2 diabetes (DiRECT): an open-label, cluster-randomized trial; in: The Lancet (published 12/05/2017), The Lancet

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