TYPE 2 - DIABETES REMISSION
Diabetic Living Australia|January-February 2022
On the back of a TV show that was filmed in Australia and hit screens in October last year, remission in type 2 diabetes is a hot topic. But how realistic is it? Does the research stack up? And what are we yet to learn about who it works for?
KAREN FITTALL

THE STORY SO FAR

From putting intermittent fasting on the map with the 5:2 diet to appearing on TV screens in shows like Trust Me, I’m a Doctor and Is Your Brain Male or Female?, Dr Michael Mosley is a familiar face to many. And last year, he was back, co-hosting Australia’s Health Revolution, a three-part SBS documentary series designed not just to expose type 2 diabetes as the nation’s fastest growing chronic disease, but to shine a light on the concept and possibility of reversing type 2 with diet and lifestyle adjustments. Enlisting eight everyday Australians from diverse backgrounds living with type 2 diabetes to go along for the ride, the series helped many of them achieve some impressive short-term results.

For Mosley, it was a particularly personal project. Losing his father to complications of type 2 diabetes, he was diagnosed with the disease himself in 2012. “And I managed to reverse my own diabetes by losing 9kg,” he told us from his home in the UK, when we spoke to him soon after Australia’s Health Revolution had aired. “I’m very lucky that I had the opportunity to do that and since then, it’s been something I’ve been incredibly interested and invested in.”

His cause got a shot in the arm when the results of the DiRECT study were published in 2018. Among participants living with type 2 diabetes who followed a very low energy weight-loss diet consisting of no more than 3300 kilojoules a day before entering a weight-maintenance phase,* at the 12-month mark 46 per cent of them were in remission. In 2020, the results of different research, the DIADEM-1 study, showed that 61 per cent of people who’d followed the same dietary advice were in remission after one year.

“That study was done in younger people who’d had diabetes for less time, which probably explains the higher success rate than the first study, because broadly speaking, if you’ve had diabetes for less than five years, you’re more likely to be successful in achieving remission than if you’ve had it for longer.”

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