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HONG KONG, China — Weight loss alone often is not enough to permanently cure Type 2 diabetes, a new study contends. According to the research, only six percent of individuals who attempt to manage their diabetes through weight loss remain free of the condition after eight years.

The study, which focused on real-world conditions rather than clinical trials, was conducted by researchers from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. They analyzed data from 37,326 people in Hong Kong who were newly diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, examining the duration and effectiveness of controlling the disease through weight loss.

Interestingly, the research finds that those who lost the most weight in the first year had a higher likelihood of remaining diabetes-free in subsequent years. However, two-thirds of those who initially succeeded in achieving remission through weight loss experienced elevated blood glucose levels again by the third year.

In contrast to clinical trials, where up to 27 percent of participants managed to combat diabetes through weight loss, this study did not involve clinical intervention. Clinical trials often report higher success rates due to intensive lifestyle interventions, including support for dietary changes, physical exercise, and mental health.

💡What Is Type 2 Diabetes?

  • Your body’s cells become resistant to insulin, a hormone that helps absorb sugar
  • Over time, this buildup of sugar in your blood can damage your organs and tissues
  • While genetics play a role, Type 2 diabetes is largely preventable through healthy lifestyle choices
a woman measuring her hips
Only six percent of individuals who attempt to manage their diabetes through weight loss remain free of the condition after eight years. (Photo by Huha Inc. on Unsplash)

The study concludes that few patients can achieve normal blood glucose levels solely through weight management, especially over the long term. Rapid weight loss in the first year of diabetes diagnosis appears to increase the chances of the lifestyle changes being effective and the condition not reoccurring.

“Greater weight loss within the first year of diabetes diagnosis was associated with an increased likelihood of achieving diabetes remission,” says study author Professor Andrea Luk in a media release. “However, the incidence of diabetes remission was low with only 6% of people achieving remission over 8 years, and half of those with initial remission returned to hyperglycemia within 3 years indicating poor sustainability of diabetes remission in real-world setting.”

The research is published in the journal PLoS Medicine.

South West News Service writer Jim Leffman contributed to this report.

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1 Comment

  1. Vendicar Decarian says:

    I developed type two diabetes about 10 years ago. The transition from normal to blood sugars 4x normal occurred over a period of just several months.

    Coincidentally it happened when I was put on a diuretic for high blood pressure.

    Whild that drug is not recognized as causing diabetes I am still suspicious.

    In any case the onset from normal to diabetic was not gradual and I am certain that there is some external causative factor that is responsible.