Almost 4 million British adults live with the challenges of Type 2 diabetes, an increase of 60 per cent in the last decade.
This mirrors the progressive rise of obesity, which has tripled in the last three decades and is a key factor in causing the condition.
However, there is a big beacon of hope on the horizon. The early findings of a study by Imperial College London demonstrate that a 12-week low calorie diet can have a major impact in reversing the condition.
During the study, obese patients were put on 800-calorie-per-day liquid diet based on powdered skimmed milk and soya protein flavoured with sweeteners. Occasional chocolate bars were also allowed.
Within weeks they were able to cut back their prescribed insulin dosage and saw greater reductions in blood sugar and body fat mass levels than a control group on standard NHS care.
One person who won’t be surprised by these findings is Telecommunications Manager, Anupam Sharad, who was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in his late thirties. Weighing almost 18st, the father of one knew he had to address his size – and quickly. According to Diabetes UK, patients with Type 2 diabetes are five times more likely to develop heart disease or stroke.
“I was shocked by the diagnosis and needed to change,” says Anupam. “I struggled with normal day-to-day activities. On public transport I always felt sleepy, especially in the mornings when the average person feels the most energised. Soon, doing the things I loved like badminton and cricket became very hard to manage. I was in no way fit enough to do any form of exercise so my health took a massive nose dive.”
Anupam joined a weight-loss plan similar to the one being studied at Imperial College London. He replaced his conventional meals with four nutritionally-complete Foodpacks a day. He also attended complementary weight-loss groups which taught him a series of practical, life-changing skills to manage his weight long term. He explains: “Within four weeks my Type 2 diabetes was in remission and I was over a stone lighter. I couldn’t believe it! The process was very inspiring. I enjoyed talking to new people who were going through the same process as me and helped keep me motivated.
“It was also very educational. I learnt which foods are helpful and which I should stay away from eating. This helped tremendously when I made the transition back to conventional food, as I knew exactly what not to eat which made maintaining my weight easier.”
Type 2 diabetes shouldn’t be a life sentence for anyone. Many studies already demonstrate that as little as 10 to 15 per cent weight loss can reverse symptoms.
Here’s hoping the Imperial College findings, and the results from Diabetes UK-funded DiRECT (Diabetes Remission Clinical Trial) study which concludes next year, will mark a move away from the traditional NHS treatments to faster acting weight-management programmes.