A Fife diabetes support group has welcomed new research on the impact weight loss can have on the condition, but has advised that it is not the single cure.
The research, carried out by the Universities of Glasgow and Newcastle and funded by Diabetes UK, has revealed that a diet created to help people who have type 2 diabetes enter remission also lowers blood pressure and reduces the need for medication.
Ian Sloan, administrator of the Diabetes UK Fife Voluntary Groups, who also has type 2 diabetes, said the research was a positive step, but he was sceptical of whether the results from the research group could be transferred to the wider population.
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Ian said: “I think it’s too early to say that this is the cure for diabetes type 2.
“At the moment I take tablets and they totally control my diabetes, I’m very stable and have no issues at all.
“Because it involves a severe change in your calorie intake, this would usually have to be done under medical supervision and closely monitored.
“If it works for people, that’s great – let the people who it works for go through the regime, but it will require a lot of will power and self-control.
“If you’re really ill with your diabetes then perhaps this is a way out, an answer.
“Diabetes UK is looking for a way to prevent and ultimately cure diabetes, and minimise the effects. This is one avenue that obviously works for some people.”
The programme involves an initial 12 weeks on a nutritionally complete formula diet of low calorie soups and shakes, which induces weight loss of more than two stones if followed fully.
As we look back to celebrate a century of insulin, we’re also looking ahead to how research will transform diabetes treatments in the years and decades to come. Our researcher @EOlaniru reveals what’s on his wish list. #DiabetesDiscoveries pic.twitter.com/h4B4HxaYdk
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The weight management programme has proved effective at lowering blood pressure and reducing the need for anti-hypertensive medications, as well as bringing remission of type 2 diabetes.
Diabetes and blood pressure drugs were stopped at the start of the programme and only re-started if blood sugar or blood pressure rose.
The weight loss phase is followed by support to choose foods and eat wisely for weight loss maintenance.
Diabetes in Tayside and Fife
According to Diabetes UK, 4.8% (around 19,223 people) of the local Tayside population have diabetes; slightly higher than the 4.6% national average.
The charity also estimates that around 3,500 people are awaiting a diagnosis at any given time.
Statistics for Fife are similar: 4.8% of the local population have diabetes (roughly 17,467 people), with a further 2,556 awaiting diagnosis.
More broadly, every week in the UK diabetes leads to more than 160 amputations, 680 strokes, 530 heart attacks and 2,000 cases of heart failure.
Diabetes UK runs voluntary support groups in Dundee and across Fife, to provide advice and peer support to those living with the condition.