Obesity is a key risk factor for type 2 diabetes, but not everyone with this condition is overweight.
Professor Taylor will study whether weight loss in people with type 2 diabetes who aren’t obese can put their condition into remission. If the researchers confirm this, it could change the advice given to people with type 2 of a normal weight and help them live well for longer.
Background to research
In type 2 diabetes, beta cells in the pancreas can lose their ability to make insulin. It’s believed that too much fat around the pancreas could cause this.
Professor Taylor has been working on the DiRECT study, with Professor Lean, to find out if a structured weight management programme, which includes a low-calorie diet, can put type 2 diabetes into remission in people who are overweight. The first findings from DiRECT shown that around half of people who tried this new approach were able to put their type 2 diabetes into remission.
DiRECT hopes to build on what we already know from studies in a small number of volunteers. They have shown that low-calorie diets helped people with type 2 to reduce the amount of fat in their liver and pancreas, helping to restore their insulin production and put their type 2 diabetes into remission.
Professor Taylor wants to know if the same concept can help people with type 2 diabetes who aren’t overweight. Unlike those with type 2 who are obese, these people aren’t usually advised by their doctors to lose weight.
Professor Taylor and his team will study whether a low-calorie diet can help people with type 2 diabetes who aren’t obese to put their condition into remission.
Participants will be asked to consume 800 calories a day (from soups, shakes and non-starchy vegetables) for up to two weeks, whilst being supervised by a medical team. After this, they’ll be supported to gradually return to eating normal food and to keep off the weight they lost.
They’ll be asked to repeat this cycle of a low-calorie diet and weight loss maintenance up to three times. After each cycle, the research team will measure the amount of fat in the pancreas and liver, and establish at which point people may achieve type 2 remission. This can give a greater insight into the biology behind type 2 diabetes, and why it may develop in people who aren’t overweight.
Potential benefit to people with diabetes
This research could help people with type 2 diabetes of a normal weight put their condition into remission, potentially allowing them to stop taking diabetes medications and live well for longer.
Understanding more about how type 2 diabetes develops could also be crucial for finding ways to prevent the condition in the future.