You Can Potentially Reverse Type 2 Diabetes—If You Lose This Many Pounds

Updated: Sep. 20, 2017

With some investment and effort—and by keeping a close eye on the scale—people with type 2 diabetics may be able to heal themselves.

scaleArtem Oleshko/shutterstockMore than 29 million people in the United States have diabetes, reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Even more alarming is the fact that many don’t even realize they have the deadly condition—and those are just two of the many surprising facts about type 2 diabetes. Despite the staggering numbers, there is a way out: Not only do exercise and a good diet help, researchers now know exactly how much weight type 2 diabetics need to lose to resolve many or all of their symptoms.

In research from Scotland that was just published in BMJ, investigators tracked patients with type 2 diabetes for almost 10 years, and found that those who had followed a restricted-calorie diet and lost at least 33 pounds no longer had diabetes. These findings built on a series of clinical trials begun in 2011, in which people who had recently been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes were able to maintain a normal blood sugar level while staying on a calorie-restrictive diet, Time magazine reports.

One of the study’s authors, Mike Lean, professor of human nutrition at the University of Glasgow in Scotland explained to Time that type 2 sufferers need to act within the first five years of their diagnosis to see the most effective results. “Type 2 diabetes is a disease best avoided by avoiding the weight gain that drives it,” he said. “For people who do develop it, evidence-based weight-loss programs could help them achieve lasting remission. Not all can do it, but they should all be given the chance with good support. Taking tablets or injections for life to reduce blood sugar is a poor second-rate treatment.”

Many people diagnosed with type 2 diabetes aren’t aware the cure is in their hands, Lean explained. Doctors must also take the lead, he says, so that patients understand they don’t have to spend a lifetime on medication. Lean and his colleagues recommend that more programs be developed to arm patients and their providers with the information that weight loss can cure type 2 diabetes.

Lean suggests that “patients should do their best—by any available and safe method—to lose weight and keep it off. People with diabetes should start to demand support for sustained weight loss, but it will never be simple, and they themselves have to make big long-term changes.” Looking for ways to kick start that weight loss? Here are some tried and true tips to lose weight.