New Delhi, Dec 7: An extreme low-calorie diet that leads to an average weight loss of 10 kilograms can reverse type 2 diabetes, even six years into the disease, a Lancet study shows. In the trial, nine out of 10 people who lost 15 kilograms or more put their type 2 diabetes into remission. The weight-loss diet plan was a shake-like formula of 825-853 calories that was taken every day for three to five months. It was followed by a stepped reintroduction of solid food over two to eight weeks. Study participants were not asked to follow any structured exercise routine, but were motivated to be active.

This was the first study to show that extreme weight-loss leads to lasting remission without medication. The Lancet study done by researchers from Newcastle and Glasglow Universities showed that almost half of those who participated (45.6%) in the trial stayed in remission after a year. In the comparison group, patients received best available diabetes care but not the low-calorie diet. Only 4% of the control group managed to achieve remission.

However, there are certain caveats in the study. Dr Anoop Misra, chairman, Fortis centre of excellence for diabetes, metabolic diseases and endocrinology explained to Hindustan Times that the findings did not apply to non-obese individuals, in ethnic group like Indians where such reversal could be inherently difficult, and in many Indians who were non-compliant to basics of diet and exercise.

The type 2 diabetes is related to the obesity epidemic. Fat accumulated in the abdomen prevents the proper function of the pancreas which can lead to life-threatening complications like blindness and foot amputations, heart and kidney disease.

Nearly 70 million adults in India have diabetes, with another 10.2% of the population with glucose intolerance, a precursor to diabetes. Globally, the number of people with type 2 diabetes has quadrupled over 35 years. According to a Hindustan Times report, the number has risen from 108 million in 1980 to 422 million in 2014.