The Diabetes Remission Clinical Trial (DiRECT), funded by Diabetes UK and published today in the Lancet, found that after 12 months nearly half of participants had achieved remission to a non-diabetic state on an intensive calorie controlled programme without increasing diabetes medication.
The first year findings of the study entitled Diabetes Remission Clinical Trial (DiRECT) show nearly half of those who took part in the programme were in remission after 12 months.
Nearly a quarter of the 149 patients in the weight management group achieved weight loss of 15 kg or more at 12 months, sufficient to achieve remission of diabetes in 90% of cases - defined as HbA1c 48mmol/mol.
Half received standard care from their GP, while the other half received a structured weight management programme.
The weight loss programme included a low calorie (825-853 calories per day), nutrient-complete diet for 3-5 months, followed by food reintroduction, an increase in physical activity and long-term support to maintain weight loss.
'But our results should pave the way for this type of intervention to be considered in the routine care of patients with type 2 diabetes who wish to attain diabetes remission'.
The trial found that around 86 per cent of those who lost 15kg or more went into remission, compared with 4 per cent of the control group. Patients who have been living with the disease for 10 years or more have also suffered a loss of some cells which make the weight loss method alone ineffective.
Type 2 diabetes remission is a "practical target for primary care", the lead researchers of a ground breaking study have concluded, after finding that the condition can be reversed with a weight management programme. Evidence that Type 2 diabetes remission could be possible is building, but this research isn't finished yet.
"Substantial weight loss results in reduced fat inside the liver and pancreas, allowing these organs to return to normal function".
The vast majority of diabetes cases are Type 2, which is strongly linked to lifestyle - poor diet, excess weight and inactivity - as well as genetics.
Dr Emily Burns, Diabetes UK acting head of research communications, said: 'Thanks to ground-breaking research like DiRECT we're beginning to change the conversation around Type 2 diabetes, and that's a conversation that Global Positioning System can have with their patients as well. According to latest figures, it also reduces HbA1c by 1.17 per cent, while 37 per cent of participants reduce their medication dependency.