A new study has emphasised the important role of weight loss and maintaining a healthy lifestyle to control diabetes.
Based on the findings of The Barbados Diabetes Reversal Study, it is possible for people with Type 2 diabetes to come off medication and maintain non-diabetic blood sugar levels.
The study further suggests that many people with Type 2 diabetes can bring their glucose to non-diabetic levels off medication, effectively putting their diabetes into remission.
However, to achieve this, Type 2 diabetics need to lose substantial weight and maintain a healthy lifestyle, the study shows.
Project Manager Dr Karen Bynoe told reporters on Wednesday morning at the Barbados Diabetes Foundation’s Warrens, St Michael office, where the findings were released, that the study involved 25 participants with Type 2 diabetes who were diagnosed in the past six years. Twenty two of them were taking medication for blood sugar control.
Bynoe said all glucose lowering medication was stopped at the start of the study as participants completed an eight week low calorie liquid diet. They were then supported to return to a healthy diet and to be physically active.
She said researchers followed participants for six months after the end of the low calorie diet. Glucerna shakes were used along with high fibre by participants who described their experience as a positive one.
“What we found was quite good and promising for Barbados and the region. We found that there was an average weight loss of about 22 pounds with men in the group losing more weight than women.
“We also found that there was an average blood glucose reduction of about two millimoles per litre and we actually had significant reduction in terms of their blood pressure,” Dr Bynoe said.
Chairman of the Barbados Diabetes Foundation Dr Oscar Jordan noted that while the cost of managing diabetes was escalating exponentially in Barbados, policymakers should look at the findings of the study as an important direction which the country should adopt in managing the disease.
He said using the lessons learned from the study, there are plans to establish a clinic at the Diabetes Foundation to offer larger numbers of people the same low calorie diet, followed by ongoing long term support to maintain these benefits. It will be determined whether these individuals continue to show benefits three to five years after the low calorie diet.
“It is not going to work for everyone and I think that is recognized. . . . The fact that people with Type one diabetes are excluded from this study, means that it is limited to those who fit the criteria and it is very important that there is adequate control and supervision,” Dr Jordan said.
However, while highlighting the success of the study, the research team urged Barbadians not to go about experimenting and testing the results of the study without being monitored by
“It works but in a very controlled environment. It was very structured from our end, the support part of it and us keeping in touch with the participants over the entire study period,” researcher and lecturer in public health, Dr Madhuvanti Murphy, said.
Professor Nigel Unwin, the principal investigator, said the study was funded by Virgin Unite, the charitable foundation of Sir Richard Branson
who came to launch the study in December 2014.
He said Sir Richard was accompanied by Professor Roy Taylor, who has pioneered the approach to putting type 2 diabetes into remission in the UK. He acted as the overall scientific advisor for the study.
“People age 25 and above in Barbados, just under one in five, have type 2 diabetes,” Professor Unwin noted. (AH)