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Achieving long-term results in diabetes

The current research highlighted in the Daily Express, argues for the use of 800 calorie/day diets for a limited period of time, liquid based, with vitamin supplements

On Wednesday, 2 March to Friday, 4 March the 2016 Diabetes UK conference was held in Glasgow. How many of you were able to attend this?

The annual conference is organised by Diabetes UK, and is the only one of its kind. It brings together health professionals from all aspects of diabetes care, with debates and speakers to challenge current thinking and treatments, and introduce – sometimes radical – approaches to care. It is also an opportunity to network with other likeminded health professionals. The programme is very broad and covers so many different areas that it should keep everyone who attends interested across the three days it is held. It is likely to be held somewhere else in 2017, keep a look out for details, and if you get the opportunity, get some funding and attend.

In the Daily Express last week there was an article about some current research looking at very low calorie diets and whether they are successful in putting type 2 diabetes into remission. As some of you may recall, around 2013, Professor Roy Taylor of Newcastle University carried out a very small, similar research study. He is now involved in the Diabetes UK funded study entitled DiRECT, which has also been looking at the use of low calorie formula diets to put diabetes into remission. The study is due to conclude in 2017.

The current research highlighted in the Daily Express, argues for the use of 800 calorie/day diets for a limited period of time, liquid based, with vitamin supplements. The suggestion is that this will help the person to lose weight, perhaps up to 10-15% of their weight and by so doing, also reduce their insulin requirements, so that they lower both body fat and blood sugar levels.

While these findings appear to be very exciting, and may well have their place in the management of type 2 diabetes in the future, do they provide the long-term solution to the obesity/type 2 diabetes conundrum? People may well find that they can follow these strictly managed dietary restrictions for the short term, and improve the situation and reduce risks of complications for a period of time. But will they be able to balance their long-term calorific intake and output, so that weight is not regained, and will the insulin sensitivity that has been restored, remain for the long-term as well?

Will this help us with patients who are struggling with their weight now, and allow us to help improve their situation? Is it not the fact that we all need to change our lifestyles and eat a diet not weighted in favour of refined carbohydrates? Shouldn’t we become more active, to help reduce the risks of developing type 2 diabetes in the first place? Isn’t there a need for us to educate young families today, so that youngsters do not spend their free time using their hand held devices, but are more active, and encouraged to take part in all kinds of activities, and basic healthy cooking and eating is seen as the norm.

Yes, this research may be a great help, but aren’t there some simple things we could all do to improve things? Read my January blog entitled ‘Diabetes and the patients that don’t want help’, and see how someone just making small changes to their daily routine, achieved results. This man continues to lose weight, and he feels so much better – he will never be slim, but the risks from diabetes complications are being steadily reduced. The downside of this, is the time required, and our patients need time, if we are to help them achieve change in their lives.