This information is for healthcare professionals. If you have type 2 diabetes, we've got lots of information about remission that you might find helpful.
Diabetes UK position statement for healthcare professionals
We recognise that remission can be achieved in people previously diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.
Our final position statement about remission is ready to read – we give all the key points here and you can also download the full statement as a PDF (226KB)
This position statement will also be published in the leading diabetes journals from Monday, 30 August, 2021 including Diabetes Care and Diabetic Medicine.
We've produced this statement to help everyone understand what remission means and how some people get there, because there's a lot of inconsistency and confusion about it. And by everyone, we're talking about healthcare professionals, people with diabetes and the general public too.
We say remission is when someone's blood glucose levels are maintained at a normal range. This doesn't mean the symptoms of diabetes can't come back and it's essential to keep having regular healthcare checks, such as retinal (eye) screening. There's currently no evidence to suggest that remission is permanent – that's why we don't call it a cure, or anything else that suggests it's a permanent situation.
- Type 2 diabetes remission is possible through weight loss, following intensive dietary changes or bariatric surgery
- Diabetes UK defines type 2 diabetes remission as a sustained metabolic improvement where HbA1c levels return to below 6.5% (48mmol/mol) and which is sustained for at least 3 months in the absence of glucose-lowering medications
- The health benefits of weight loss are huge, even if remission does not occur. It reduces the risk of developing other conditions and may lead to reducing or stopping blood glucose lowering medications and could reduce the risk of serious harm from coronavirus.
- As there is insufficient evidence on the impact of remission on specific diabetes complications, everyone who is in remission should continue to receive regular monitoring at least annually including retinal screening, and ongoing support for self-management, tailored to their specific needs
- We welcome and support the introduction of pilot remission services in the NHS in England and Northern Ireland and services in Scotland based on the low-calorie diet approach
- Bariatric surgery should be more widely available for people with type 2 diabetes who meet NICE criteria
- More research is needed to understand different means of going into remission and maintaining it, the long-term impact of remission on complications and remission in different population groups including children and young people with type 2 diabetes.
To write this statement we reviewed the evidence and sought the views of a wide group of stakeholders. In 2017 we held a workshop attended by people with diabetes, health care professionals and researchers to inform our interim recommendations. Since then, we've been working with experts from the American Diabetes Association (ADA), and the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) to agree a definition of type 2 diabetes remission. A wider group including Diabetes UK’s Council of Health Care Professionals (CHP), researchers and other clinicians were asked to comment on the final draft.