New guidance claims type 2 diabetes can be reversed with 15% weight loss

IrSPEN, the clinical nutrition group, is advising people living with type 2 diabetes and obesity that they can reverse, or put their diabetes into remission if they can lose 15% of their body weight.

This even applies to the people who are on insulin and have poor diabetes control. Remission is achievable by half of people living with type 2 diabetes if they can lose 15% of their body weight.

The research also showed that this is independent of the starting BMI making this relevant to any person living with type 2 diabetes who has a BMI over 30.

This has clear benefits both to the people living with the condition, who can reverse their symptoms and stop or reduce their medication need, but also to the Department of Health in terms of savings to the health budget.

A clinical audit showed that the treatment of an obese person with difficult to control diabetes in Donegal is approximately 4,000 per year, and after more than 15% weight loss following treatment at Letterkenny University Hospital, this cost reduced to approximately 500 per year in direct healthcare cost pertaining to their diabetes.

When applied to the number of people living with diabetes for whom this is possible, the state will make back all the money spent on the treatment within 3-5 years and start saving money each year after that.

The current cost of treating all obesity-related diseases is approximately 1.16 billion per annum, 35% of this cost is allocated to hospital care and medication costs and 65% is from indirect costs including productivity losses from absenteeism.

Ireland has one of the highest obesity rates in Europe and it affects more than one million people here. One in four adults are obese and one in four children are overweight or obese making them highly likely to become obese adults. Every year in Ireland approximately 2,000 deaths are attributable to obesity. According to the WHO, 65% of the diabetes burden, 23% of the heart disease burden and between 7% and 41% of certain cancer burdens are attributable to overweight and obesity.

Commenting on the research Professor Carel le Roux from the Irish Society of Clinical Nutrition and Metabolism said, “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.

“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 2 in 10 people with the use of specialist diets, another 3 in 10 with the use of medication and another 5 in 10 with the use of surgical treatments.” Mr John Conneely, Consultant Metabolic Surgeon, Mater Misericordiae University Hospital said, “European Obesity Day offers us an opportune time to remind people that type 2 diabetes can go into remission if the person is able to lose 15% of their body weight – this can be applied to people of any start weight above a BMI of 30.

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.”

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