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Type 2 diabetes remission for people of a healthy weight

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We know many people who have type 2 diabetes and have a BMI that's in the healthy range want to know how they can try going into type 2 diabetes remission.

Around 10% of people with type 2 diabetes have a BMI that isn't in the overweight or obesity category. 

At the moment, most of the evidence we have for type 2 diabetes remission is based on people living with overweight or obesity. There is some research into if type 2 diabetes remission is possible for people of a lower body weight. But we need more research before we can say for sure how people of a healthy weight can safely put their type 2 diabetes into remission. 

“I was a healthy 48-year-old with a BMI of 27. My GP ordered blood tests and, with no family history of diabetes either, they were surprised themselves that the results said it might be type 2 diabetes – further testing showed it was true." – Read more of David's type 2 remission story.

Should I try to lose weight to go into type 2 remission if my BMI is in the healthy range?

It could be unsafe to lose weight if your BMI is in the underweight category. People who have a BMI of 18.5 or under are classed as underweight and may be under nourished. 

It could also be unsafe to lose weight if your BMI is in the healthy category. A healthy weight range is a BMI of 18.5-24.9.

Losing too much weight can put your BMI into the underweight category. This can lead to health problems like a weakened immune system – meaning you’re more likely to pick up infections. It could also affect the density – or strength – of your bones too, making you more likely to break a bone if you fall.    

We don’t recommend or encourage anyone of a lower body weight to try losing weight for remission without speaking their healthcare team first.

Research into remission for people of lower body weights

The strongest research we have – from a study called DiRECT – shows that the best chance that people living with overweight and obesity have of putting their type 2 diabetes into remission is to lose around 15kg of weight quickly and safely. But not everyone has that amount of weight to lose.

So we funded some more research, called the ReTUNE study, to see if weight loss could also help people with lower body weights go into remission. Twenty people with type 2 diabetes and BMIs in, or just above, the healthy range took part in ReTUNE.

They went on a low-calorie weight loss programme with support from a medical team. The findings showed this helped some people with body weights that weren't in the obese or underweight category to lose fat from inside their liver and pancreas and go into type 2 diabetes remission. This is because the liver and pancreas are organs that help control your blood sugar levels. Check out the 'how type 2 remission works' video to find out more about this. 

We need more studies with bigger groups to confirm ReTUNE's results. But this research gives us hope that one day we will be able to support everyone with type 2 diabetes to go into remission. 

Right now though, we don't have the ways of supporting people of lower body weights to try for remission. 

Where to go for more information

  • To find out if losing weight may be appropriate for you, speak to your healthcare team who may be able to refer you to a dietitian.   
  • If you have concerns about your weight, are losing weight unintentionally, or want to gain or lose weight, speak to your healthcare team for advice and support.   
Next Review Date
Content last reviewed
29 January 2024
Next review due
29 January 2027
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