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Crash diet can reverse type 2 diabetes by rebooting insulin producing cells, study finds


The crash diet experiment, reported last December, saw people on the 16-week diet lose 15 per cent of their weight on average.

But researchers wanted to establish why some people were able to reverse their type 2 diabetes, typically seen as a lifelong condition, while others losing a similar amount of weight could not.

Tests were carried out on 29 ‘responders’ in remission from diabetes and 16 ‘non-responders’ who still had the condition despite their weight loss.


The results, published in the journal Cell Metabolism, found the first group saw their beta cells begin to work properly again, releasing the right amount of the insulin hormone needed to regulate blood sugar.

But there was no change in the amount of insulin produced by people for whom the diet did not work, suggesting their beta cells had not survived the stress of being surrounded by fat.

Responders had also lived with Type 2 diabetes for slightly less time, compared to non-responders, which was 2.7 years on average compared to 3.8 years.

The findings back up the theory that a key part of overcoming diabetes comes from reducing internal fat in the pancreas, where the beta cells are found. But researchers don’t yet know why beta cells are more likely to recover in some people than others, or how to identify those most likely to go into remission.

Dr. Elizabeth Robertson, director of research at Diabetes UK, which funded the Diabetes Remission Clinical Trial (DiRECT), said: ‘DiRECT has already provided evidence to suggest that some people can put their Type 2 diabetes into remission, but we didn’t yet know why.

“This latest study builds on these promising findings and helps us understand how weight loss can help some people to kick-start their insulin production again.”

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Crash dietType 2 diabetes
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