Can You Reverse Type 2 Diabetes?

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An intensive lifestyle intervention program that includes weight loss and increased exercise can bring about a remission of type 2 diabetes in people who have had the disease for several years. The catch? Less than 2 percent of the people who tried it were able to achieve a complete remission, and if they don't maintain the changes, it's likely that their diabetes will quickly return.

The lifestyle intervention, however, was able to significantly improve the health of more than 10 percent of those who followed it, inducing partial remission of type 2 diabetes, weight loss, greater fitness levels and a reduced need for medication for high blood pressure.

"Whether it's preventing type 2 diabetes or preventing its complications, a healthy diet and an active lifestyle can make a difference," said study lead author Edward Gregg, chief of the epidemiology and statistics branch in the division of diabetes translation at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Although Gregg acknowledged it was difficult to achieve a complete remission of long-standing type 2 diabetes, the study also showed that it was possible. "These findings are encouraging given the common belief that once you have type 2 diabetes, unless you have obesity surgery, you can't change diabetes if you've had it for a while," he said.

Type 2 diabetes is a metabolic disorder associated with a genetic susceptibility to the disease, a sedentary lifestyle and obesity, according to the American Diabetes Association.

The current study, which was published in the Dec. 19 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, was a randomized controlled trial lasting four years. One group was assigned to receive the intensive lifestyle intervention program, while the other group received standard diabetes education and support.

The intensive lifestyle intervention program included weekly group and individual counseling sessions during the first six months, followed by three sessions per month for the next six months. Next were twice-monthly contact and regular group refresher campaigns in years two through four. Target weight and physical activity goals were set, along with daily caloric intake goals of between 1,200 and 1,800 calories. Liquid meal replacements were provided if requested.

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SOURCE: HealthDay News
Serena Gordon
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