Saturday, February 23, 2013

The Nutrition Debate #89: “Reversal of Type 2 Diabetes” Revisited

“Reversal of Type 2 Diabetes,” published online in Diabetologia 09 June 2011, was the subject of last week’s blog (#88) here. In the course of doing “due diligence,” my brilliant on-line editor, found a companion piece in Diabetic Medicine: a Journal of the British Diabetic Association dated 2013 January 15 by two of the authors, E. L Lim and R. Taylor, plus S. Steven, also of Newcastle. It is titled, “Population Response to Information on Reversibility of Type 2 Diabetes.” She also found a related link that particularly impressed me: One of the authors of both papers, R. Taylor, presented “The 2012 Banting Lecture” at the American Diabetes Association annual meeting. His subject: “Reversing the Twin Cycles of Type 2 Diabetes,” the very same stuff! The lecture is given by the winner of the Banting Medal for Scientific Achievement Award, the highest scientific award of the American Diabetes Association. About finding this current paper, my editor commented: I mostly wanted to see what areas of expertise these authors had…! I think (they) are on to something important and also wanted to see what they were up to currently. There's an ongoing effort to shorten the time between research and clinical practice. So their reporting on people trying out their ideas was especially interesting to me. In the med world, this is pretty fast turnaround.” What a consummate professional my editor is!  How lucky I am to have her!

The balance of this post will be verbatim extracts of the abstracts of both the “Population Response…” and the “2012 Banting Lecture.” Both are copyrighted as noted. Note also: authors’ names are hyperlinked to their work in PubMed.

"Population response to information on reversibility of Type 2 diabetes."


Magnetic Resonance Centre, Institute of Cellular Medicine, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon, Tyne, UK.



Following publication of the Counterpoint Study (on the reversibility of Type 2 diabetes using a very low energy diet), the extent of public interest prompted the authors to make available, on a website, general information about reversing diabetes. Shortly thereafter, individuals began to feed back their personal experiences of attempting to reverse their diabetes. We have collated this information on the effects of energy restriction in motivated individuals with Type 2 diabetes that has been achieved outside a research setting.


Emails, letters and telephone communications received between July 2011 and September 2012 were evaluated (n = 77: 66 men, 11 women). Median diabetes duration was 5.5 years (3 months-28 years). Reversal of diabetes was defined as achieving fasting capillary blood glucose < 6.1 mmol/l and/or, if available, HbA(1c) less than 43 mmol/mol (6.1%) off treatment.


Self-reported weight fell from 96.7 ± 17.5 kg at baseline to 81.9 ± 14.8 kg after weight loss (P < 0.001). Self-reported fasting blood glucose levels fell from 8.3 mmol/l (5.9-33.0) to 5.5 mmol/l (4.0-10.0) after the weight loss period (P < 0.001). Diabetes reversal was considered to have occurred in 61% of the population. Reversal of diabetes was observed in 80, 63 and 53% of those with > 20, 10-20 and < 10 kg weight loss, respectively. There was a significant correlation between degree of weight loss and reported fasting glucose levels (Rs -0.38, P = 0.006). Reversal rates according to diabetes duration were: short (< 4 years) = 73%, medium (4-8 years) = 56% and long (> 8 years) = 43%.


These data demonstrate that intentional weight loss achieved at home by health-motivated individuals can reverse Type 2 diabetes. Diabetes reversal should be a goal in the management of Type 2 diabetes. © 2013 The Authors, Diabetic Medicine © 2013 Diabetes UK.

"The 2012 Banting Lecture Reversing the twin cycles of Type 2 diabetes."


Magnetic Resonance Centre, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK.


It has become widely accepted that type 2 diabetes is inevitably life-long, with irreversible and progressive beta cell damage. However, the restoration of normal glucose metabolism within days after bariatric surgery in the majority of people with type 2 diabetes disproves this concept. There is now no doubt that this reversal of diabetes depends upon the sudden and profound decrease in food intake, and does not relate to any direct surgical effect. The Counterpoint study demonstrated that normal glucose levels and normal beta cell function could be restored by a very low calorie diet alone. Novel magnetic resonance methods were applied to measure intra-organ fat. The results showed two different time courses: a) resolution of hepatic insulin sensitivity within days along with a rapid fall in liver fat and normalization of fasting glucose levels; and b) return of normal beta cell insulin secretion over weeks in step with a fall in pancreas fat. Now that it has been possible to observe the pathophysiological events during reversal of type 2 diabetes, the reverse time course of events which determine the onset of the condition can be identified. The twin cycle hypothesis postulates that chronic calorie excess leads to accumulation of liver fat with eventual spill over into the pancreas. These self-reinforcing cycles between liver and pancreas eventually cause metabolic inhibition of insulin secretion after meals and onset of hyperglycaemia. It is now clear that Type 2 diabetes is a reversible condition of intra-organ fat excess to which some people are more susceptible than others. © 2012 The Authors. Diabetic Medicine © 2012 Diabetes. (link to full text here)

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