Published on 28 March 2018

Weight loss guidelines highlight how weight loss could help people put type 2 diabetes into remission.

Newly updated dietary guidelines have been produced with the aim of improving diets and to help people with diabetes better manage the condition.

The guidelines, compiled by Diabetes UK, follow latest research developments around diet and provide evidence-based nutrition recommendations to improve how healthcare professionals can support adults at risk of developing type 2 diabetes, and people already living with type 1 and type 2 diabetes. The dietary guide is also useful for people with gestational diabetes and cystic fibrosis-related diabetes.

The revised guidelines, last updated in 2011, highlight the importance of weight management for people with type 2 diabetes and report that remission is possible, in line with the findings of the recent DiRECT (Diabetes Remission Clinical Trial) study.

The DiRECT trial, consisted of a withdrawal of all anti-diabetic and blood pressure drugs and a replacement diet of around 800 calories per day put in place for 3-5 months in people with type 2 diabetes.

This was followed by a stepped reintroduction of food over the following few weeks, and structured support for long-term weight loss maintenance. The findings of the study suggested that people with type 2 diabetes could reverse the effects of the condition with significant weight loss.

The newly published diet guidelines are based on food, rather than nutrients, and report that certain foods can help reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, manage blood glucose levels in people with type 2 diabetes, and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease in people with diabetes.

Suggested recommended foods include vegetables, fruits, wholegrains, fish, nuts and pulses. Eating less red and processed meat, refined carbohydrates and sugar sweetened beverages, is also recommended.

These recommended foods are usually associated with the Mediterranean-style diet, but can be adapted to take into account cultural and personal preferences. Previous recommendations had relied on more nutrients, but this food-based approach provides people at risk and with diabetes more flexibility.

Dr Pam Dyson, Research Dietitian at Oxford University, co-chair of the dietary guidelines group, and author of the DRWF leaflet A healthy diet and diabetes, said: “These new guidelines support an individualised approach to managing both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. The recommendations are more specific about clinical outcomes, so we hope they will help all people with diabetes to better understand what they can do to manage their condition. For people with type 2 diabetes, the potential to put their condition into remission is very exciting.”

Dr Dinesh Nagi, Consultant in Diabetes and Edocrinology at Mid Yorkshire NHS Trust, and Chairman of the Association of British Clinical Diabetologists, said: “These updated guidelines provide a highly valuable resource for healthcare professionals who work in this field and I have no doubt, will enable them to provide an individualised nutritional plan to people with diabetes.

“These guidelines are also a timely reminder to all of us working in specialist and primary care, the importance of nutrition, both in prevention of type 2 diabetes and in the day to day management of diabetes.”

Read more about type 2 diabetes 
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