A weight loss of 11% can reverse pre-diabetes in obese people, a global study shows. Pre-diabetes is a condition where a person has impaired glucose metabolism, but hasn't yet developed diabetes. A person with pre-diabetes is at greater risk of going on to develop type 2 diabetes.
More than 2300 people with prediabetes have so far been recruited for the randomised controlled trial known as PREVIEW (PREVention of diabetes through lifestyle Intervention and population studies in Europe and around the World) which has rolled out across 8 nations, including Australia.
The findings compare with other recent studies which have shown that for each percentage of body weight lost within a 6-month period, the risk of developing pre-diabetes can be reduced by a factor of ten.
Jennie Brand-Miller, PREVIEW lead investigator at the University of Sydney, says the results suggest people with pre-diabetes can reverse it by losing a significant amount of weight.
“In Sydney our PREVIEW subjects have lost on average 11kg (11%) of their body weight, and in many their fasting blood glucose levels have come back to healthy levels with their pre-diabetes disappearing,” she says.
Participants start with an 8-week Cambridge Weight Plan formula diet of 800 kcal per day and are then assessed to understand the best mix of diet and exercise going forward.
Achieving normal blood glucose levels by 6 months is also known to be key, notes Dr Anthony Leeds, Medical Director for Cambridge Weight Plan.
“Experts are linking this to losing enough weight and fat mass to deplete the excess fat in their liver and possibly their pancreas in order to improve insulin sensitivity and help the beta cells recover,” he says.
The researchers note there is already good clinical evidence for maintaining a 10% weight loss in non-diabetic people for over 4 years.