15% drop in body weight can lead to diabetes remission

People living with type-2 diabetes and obesity can reverse or put their diabetes into remission if they lose 15% of their body weight.

This even applies to the people who are on insulin and have poor diabetes control, according to the Irish Society for Clinical Nutrition and Metabolism (IrSPEN).

IrSPEN made its comments based on findings from a number of studies published in advance of European Obesity Day on Saturday.

They reveal that remission is possible in half of obese people with type-2 diabetes if they can lose 15% of their body weight. This is independent of starting body mass index (BMI), making it relevant to any diabetic classified as obese (with a BMI over 30).

“This year’s theme of the European Obesity day is ‘Tackling Obesity Together’ as it is now apparent that there is no single silver bullet, but rather that multiple approaches have to be used to optimally treat patients who have complications of obesity,” said Prof Carel le Roux of irSPEN.

“For people living with diabetes as a result of obesity, the disease usually requires the combination of specialist diets, specialist exercise and medication and or surgical treatments.

“Not every patient responds equally to these treatments. However, reversal of complications such as diabetes can be achieved in two in 10 people with the use of specialist diets, another three in 10 with medication and another five in 10 with surgical treatments.”

One of those who has had successful treatment for a pre-diabetic condition is 69-year-old John Kane from Dublin. Using a combination of diet, daily injections and exercise, he is now fitter and more energetic than he has been in years. His sleep apnoea has also improved.

“I knew I had a real problem when it got to the stage where I couldn’t play with my grandchildren unless I had a stool to sit on. If I dropped something on the ground, I would just leave it there. Then I got chosen for this clinical trial run by Prof le Roux and in three months my life was transformed. I got a chance to grow old actively and I embraced it with both arms.”

John Conneely, consultant metabolic surgeon at Mater Misericordiae University Hospital said:

“This is a really positive message to people living with the condition to consider all of the options available to support them with this goal including diet, exercise, medication and surgery.

“A lifetime dependency on medicine can be removed and the person effectively will no longer experience symptoms associated with the disease.

“Ireland is now starting to lead the world in the clinical trials that are being offered to understand how the complications of obesity such as sleep apnoea and diabetes can be put into remission. We are very fortunate to be part of these developments.”

Laura Sloan, from Letterkenny, Co Donegal, had poorly controlled diabetes until she lost more than 15% of her bodyweight after a gastric bypass operation.

Her diabetes has been in remission for almost a year and she no longer requires medication. “This has been not just life-changing but rather life-saving for me,” she said. “Since the day after my surgery, I have been off all diabetic medicine. I used to worry about the possibility of losing my eyesight. I will be forever grateful to the team in Letterkenny as this has really been the cure for me.”


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