Tag Archives: Diet

Jamie Oliver is wrong – obesity is not just about diet | Tanni Grey-Thompson

Children growing up in the UK today face a plethora of societal pressures and challenges. Our young people are some of the most overweight in Europe, are recording increasing levels of mental health issues, and are more likely to live a shorter life than their parents – a point I raised last week in the House of Lords. They’re also less likely to lead a financially stable life.


I was staggered to read the cliched phrase ‘you can’t outrun a bad diet’.

Last Wednesday the leaders of the Labour, Scottish National, Lib Dem and Green parties sent a letter to the prime minister, coordinated by Jamie Oliver, calling for “a comprehensive strategy to tackle childhood obesity”. It included 13 recommendations, but there were two glaring omissions from the list: the role of physical activity, and improving mental health and wellbeing – a decision I find deeply disheartening in a “comprehensive” strategy.

I recognise the positive impact that many of the recommendations could have, such as banning free offers for junk food and restrictions on advertising, and using tax incentives to make healthy food cheaper. But you cannot have a comprehensive strategy that looks only at diet, and ignores wider factors such as physical activity and mental health.

Indeed, I was staggered to read the phrase “you can’t outrun a bad diet”. Factors that can support the health of a child shouldn’t be pitched in competition with each other, and to continue to peddle this tired cliche is both divisive and counterproductive to the ambition we share across all sectors: for every child to have the chance to live a happy, healthy life.

The first step in winning this battle is to acknowledge a critical truth: the most important intervention to tackle obesity is to recognise that there is no magic bullet. Obesity is a complex disease, influenced by a multitude of factors. Any strategy, policy call or future manifesto should not view a child’s health through the narrow prism of what they eat, but put diet on an equal footing with mental health and physical activity. 

This August will mark the two-year anniversary of the government’s childhood obesity plan, which was an opportunity to put children’s health at the heart of policymaking and practice. But by focusing on calories in and calories out are we missing the bigger picture? Children are seldom the main decision-maker on the factors in their life that promote weight gain; they rarely choose what they eat (at home or at school); their activity levels are often subject to the depth of a parent’s purse; and they largely exist in educational settings that are forced to place more emphasis on standardised testing than on health and wellbeing.

Isn’t it time to develop a plan for action that really supports these decision-makers and key influencers to promote and support health in a child’s life? A plan that helps parents to ensure that their children who get free school meals during term time carry on getting access to the right nutritional intake during school holidays; a plan that supports schools to embrace active curriculums by rewarding commitments to health and wellbeing; and a plan that directs revenue from initiatives such as the sugary drinks tax to those that need it most: the high-need communities disproportionately affected by obesity.

At ukactive, we champion the physical, mental and social benefits that come from an active, healthy life. I have seen first hand the vital role that the physical activity sector – with its widespread workforce of coaches, youth workers, activity professionals, play workers, health mentors and community activators – has in helping to tackle childhood obesity.

But we also recognise that our sector cannot achieve its ambitions for a healthier Britain alone. We cannot afford to waste any more time on isolated approaches. We must seek consensus across all political parties that obesity is a complex disease for which no single cause or cure exists. It’s never been clearer that we need to develop a cross-party strategy that drives an integrated approach to this fundamental issue.

The diet and physical activity agendas are of equal importance, and both sectors have to work together. To shun a collaborative, holistic approach would be to jeopardise the future health and prosperity of the UK.

Tanni Grey-Thompson, a five-time Paralympian, chairs ukactive, promoting physical activity for children. She is a House of Lords crossbencher

Jamie Oliver is wrong – obesity is not just about diet | Tanni Grey-Thompson

Children growing up in the UK today face a plethora of societal pressures and challenges. Our young people are some of the most overweight in Europe, are recording increasing levels of mental health issues, and are more likely to live a shorter life than their parents – a point I raised last week in the House of Lords. They’re also less likely to lead a financially stable life.


I was staggered to read the cliched phrase ‘you can’t outrun a bad diet’.

Last Wednesday the leaders of the Labour, Scottish National, Lib Dem and Green parties sent a letter to the prime minister, coordinated by Jamie Oliver, calling for “a comprehensive strategy to tackle childhood obesity”. It included 13 recommendations, but there were two glaring omissions from the list: the role of physical activity, and improving mental health and wellbeing – a decision I find deeply disheartening in a “comprehensive” strategy.

I recognise the positive impact that many of the recommendations could have, such as banning free offers for junk food and restrictions on advertising, and using tax incentives to make healthy food cheaper. But you cannot have a comprehensive strategy that looks only at diet, and ignores wider factors such as physical activity and mental health.

Indeed, I was staggered to read the phrase “you can’t outrun a bad diet”. Factors that can support the health of a child shouldn’t be pitched in competition with each other, and to continue to peddle this tired cliche is both divisive and counterproductive to the ambition we share across all sectors: for every child to have the chance to live a happy, healthy life.

The first step in winning this battle is to acknowledge a critical truth: the most important intervention to tackle obesity is to recognise that there is no magic bullet. Obesity is a complex disease, influenced by a multitude of factors. Any strategy, policy call or future manifesto should not view a child’s health through the narrow prism of what they eat, but put diet on an equal footing with mental health and physical activity. 

This August will mark the two-year anniversary of the government’s childhood obesity plan, which was an opportunity to put children’s health at the heart of policymaking and practice. But by focusing on calories in and calories out are we missing the bigger picture? Children are seldom the main decision-maker on the factors in their life that promote weight gain; they rarely choose what they eat (at home or at school); their activity levels are often subject to the depth of a parent’s purse; and they largely exist in educational settings that are forced to place more emphasis on standardised testing than on health and wellbeing.

Isn’t it time to develop a plan for action that really supports these decision-makers and key influencers to promote and support health in a child’s life? A plan that helps parents to ensure that their children who get free school meals during term time carry on getting access to the right nutritional intake during school holidays; a plan that supports schools to embrace active curriculums by rewarding commitments to health and wellbeing; and a plan that directs revenue from initiatives such as the sugary drinks tax to those that need it most: the high-need communities disproportionately affected by obesity.

At ukactive, we champion the physical, mental and social benefits that come from an active, healthy life. I have seen first hand the vital role that the physical activity sector – with its widespread workforce of coaches, youth workers, activity professionals, play workers, health mentors and community activators – has in helping to tackle childhood obesity.

But we also recognise that our sector cannot achieve its ambitions for a healthier Britain alone. We cannot afford to waste any more time on isolated approaches. We must seek consensus across all political parties that obesity is a complex disease for which no single cause or cure exists. It’s never been clearer that we need to develop a cross-party strategy that drives an integrated approach to this fundamental issue.

The diet and physical activity agendas are of equal importance, and both sectors have to work together. To shun a collaborative, holistic approach would be to jeopardise the future health and prosperity of the UK.

Tanni Grey-Thompson, a five-time Paralympian, chairs ukactive, promoting physical activity for children. She is a House of Lords crossbencher

Jamie Oliver is wrong – obesity is not just about diet | Tanni Grey-Thompson

Children growing up in the UK today face a plethora of societal pressures and challenges. Our young people are some of the most overweight in Europe, are recording increasing levels of mental health issues, and are more likely to live a shorter life than their parents – a point I raised last week in the House of Lords. They’re also less likely to lead a financially stable life.


I was staggered to read the cliched phrase ‘you can’t outrun a bad diet’.

Last Wednesday the leaders of the Labour, Scottish National, Lib Dem and Green parties sent a letter to the prime minister, coordinated by Jamie Oliver, calling for “a comprehensive strategy to tackle childhood obesity”. It included 13 recommendations, but there were two glaring omissions from the list: the role of physical activity, and improving mental health and wellbeing – a decision I find deeply disheartening in a “comprehensive” strategy.

I recognise the positive impact that many of the recommendations could have, such as banning free offers for junk food and restrictions on advertising, and using tax incentives to make healthy food cheaper. But you cannot have a comprehensive strategy that looks only at diet, and ignores wider factors such as physical activity and mental health.

Indeed, I was staggered to read the phrase “you can’t outrun a bad diet”. Factors that can support the health of a child shouldn’t be pitched in competition with each other, and to continue to peddle this tired cliche is both divisive and counterproductive to the ambition we share across all sectors: for every child to have the chance to live a happy, healthy life.

The first step in winning this battle is to acknowledge a critical truth: the most important intervention to tackle obesity is to recognise that there is no magic bullet. Obesity is a complex disease, influenced by a multitude of factors. Any strategy, policy call or future manifesto should not view a child’s health through the narrow prism of what they eat, but put diet on an equal footing with mental health and physical activity. 

This August will mark the two-year anniversary of the government’s childhood obesity plan, which was an opportunity to put children’s health at the heart of policymaking and practice. But by focusing on calories in and calories out are we missing the bigger picture? Children are seldom the main decision-maker on the factors in their life that promote weight gain; they rarely choose what they eat (at home or at school); their activity levels are often subject to the depth of a parent’s purse; and they largely exist in educational settings that are forced to place more emphasis on standardised testing than on health and wellbeing.

Isn’t it time to develop a plan for action that really supports these decision-makers and key influencers to promote and support health in a child’s life? A plan that helps parents to ensure that their children who get free school meals during term time carry on getting access to the right nutritional intake during school holidays; a plan that supports schools to embrace active curriculums by rewarding commitments to health and wellbeing; and a plan that directs revenue from initiatives such as the sugary drinks tax to those that need it most: the high-need communities disproportionately affected by obesity.

At ukactive, we champion the physical, mental and social benefits that come from an active, healthy life. I have seen first hand the vital role that the physical activity sector – with its widespread workforce of coaches, youth workers, activity professionals, play workers, health mentors and community activators – has in helping to tackle childhood obesity.

But we also recognise that our sector cannot achieve its ambitions for a healthier Britain alone. We cannot afford to waste any more time on isolated approaches. We must seek consensus across all political parties that obesity is a complex disease for which no single cause or cure exists. It’s never been clearer that we need to develop a cross-party strategy that drives an integrated approach to this fundamental issue.

The diet and physical activity agendas are of equal importance, and both sectors have to work together. To shun a collaborative, holistic approach would be to jeopardise the future health and prosperity of the UK.

Tanni Grey-Thompson, a five-time Paralympian, chairs ukactive, promoting physical activity for children. She is a House of Lords crossbencher

Jamie Oliver is wrong – obesity is not just about diet | Tanni Grey-Thompson

Children growing up in the UK today face a plethora of societal pressures and challenges. Our young people are some of the most overweight in Europe, are recording increasing levels of mental health issues, and are more likely to live a shorter life than their parents – a point I raised last week in the House of Lords. They’re also less likely to lead a financially stable life.


I was staggered to read the cliched phrase ‘you can’t outrun a bad diet’.

Last Wednesday the leaders of the Labour, Scottish National, Lib Dem and Green parties sent a letter to the prime minister, coordinated by Jamie Oliver, calling for “a comprehensive strategy to tackle childhood obesity”. It included 13 recommendations, but there were two glaring omissions from the list: the role of physical activity, and improving mental health and wellbeing – a decision I find deeply disheartening in a “comprehensive” strategy.

I recognise the positive impact that many of the recommendations could have, such as banning free offers for junk food and restrictions on advertising, and using tax incentives to make healthy food cheaper. But you cannot have a comprehensive strategy that looks only at diet, and ignores wider factors such as physical activity and mental health.

Indeed, I was staggered to read the phrase “you can’t outrun a bad diet”. Factors that can support the health of a child shouldn’t be pitched in competition with each other, and to continue to peddle this tired cliche is both divisive and counterproductive to the ambition we share across all sectors: for every child to have the chance to live a happy, healthy life.

The first step in winning this battle is to acknowledge a critical truth: the most important intervention to tackle obesity is to recognise that there is no magic bullet. Obesity is a complex disease, influenced by a multitude of factors. Any strategy, policy call or future manifesto should not view a child’s health through the narrow prism of what they eat, but put diet on an equal footing with mental health and physical activity. 

This August will mark the two-year anniversary of the government’s childhood obesity plan, which was an opportunity to put children’s health at the heart of policymaking and practice. But by focusing on calories in and calories out are we missing the bigger picture? Children are seldom the main decision-maker on the factors in their life that promote weight gain; they rarely choose what they eat (at home or at school); their activity levels are often subject to the depth of a parent’s purse; and they largely exist in educational settings that are forced to place more emphasis on standardised testing than on health and wellbeing.

Isn’t it time to develop a plan for action that really supports these decision-makers and key influencers to promote and support health in a child’s life? A plan that helps parents to ensure that their children who get free school meals during term time carry on getting access to the right nutritional intake during school holidays; a plan that supports schools to embrace active curriculums by rewarding commitments to health and wellbeing; and a plan that directs revenue from initiatives such as the sugary drinks tax to those that need it most: the high-need communities disproportionately affected by obesity.

At ukactive, we champion the physical, mental and social benefits that come from an active, healthy life. I have seen first hand the vital role that the physical activity sector – with its widespread workforce of coaches, youth workers, activity professionals, play workers, health mentors and community activators – has in helping to tackle childhood obesity.

But we also recognise that our sector cannot achieve its ambitions for a healthier Britain alone. We cannot afford to waste any more time on isolated approaches. We must seek consensus across all political parties that obesity is a complex disease for which no single cause or cure exists. It’s never been clearer that we need to develop a cross-party strategy that drives an integrated approach to this fundamental issue.

The diet and physical activity agendas are of equal importance, and both sectors have to work together. To shun a collaborative, holistic approach would be to jeopardise the future health and prosperity of the UK.

Tanni Grey-Thompson, a five-time Paralympian, chairs ukactive, promoting physical activity for children. She is a House of Lords crossbencher

Jamie Oliver is wrong – obesity is not just about diet | Tanni Grey-Thompson

Children growing up in the UK today face a plethora of societal pressures and challenges. Our young people are some of the most overweight in Europe, are recording increasing levels of mental health issues, and are more likely to live a shorter life than their parents – a point I raised last week in the House of Lords. They’re also less likely to lead a financially stable life.


I was staggered to read the cliched phrase ‘you can’t outrun a bad diet’.

Last Wednesday the leaders of the Labour, Scottish National, Lib Dem and Green parties sent a letter to the prime minister, coordinated by Jamie Oliver, calling for “a comprehensive strategy to tackle childhood obesity”. It included 13 recommendations, but there were two glaring omissions from the list: the role of physical activity, and improving mental health and wellbeing – a decision I find deeply disheartening in a “comprehensive” strategy.

I recognise the positive impact that many of the recommendations could have, such as banning free offers for junk food and restrictions on advertising, and using tax incentives to make healthy food cheaper. But you cannot have a comprehensive strategy that looks only at diet, and ignores wider factors such as physical activity and mental health.

Indeed, I was staggered to read the phrase “you can’t outrun a bad diet”. Factors that can support the health of a child shouldn’t be pitched in competition with each other, and to continue to peddle this tired cliche is both divisive and counterproductive to the ambition we share across all sectors: for every child to have the chance to live a happy, healthy life.

The first step in winning this battle is to acknowledge a critical truth: the most important intervention to tackle obesity is to recognise that there is no magic bullet. Obesity is a complex disease, influenced by a multitude of factors. Any strategy, policy call or future manifesto should not view a child’s health through the narrow prism of what they eat, but put diet on an equal footing with mental health and physical activity. 

This August will mark the two-year anniversary of the government’s childhood obesity plan, which was an opportunity to put children’s health at the heart of policymaking and practice. But by focusing on calories in and calories out are we missing the bigger picture? Children are seldom the main decision-maker on the factors in their life that promote weight gain; they rarely choose what they eat (at home or at school); their activity levels are often subject to the depth of a parent’s purse; and they largely exist in educational settings that are forced to place more emphasis on standardised testing than on health and wellbeing.

Isn’t it time to develop a plan for action that really supports these decision-makers and key influencers to promote and support health in a child’s life? A plan that helps parents to ensure that their children who get free school meals during term time carry on getting access to the right nutritional intake during school holidays; a plan that supports schools to embrace active curriculums by rewarding commitments to health and wellbeing; and a plan that directs revenue from initiatives such as the sugary drinks tax to those that need it most: the high-need communities disproportionately affected by obesity.

At ukactive, we champion the physical, mental and social benefits that come from an active, healthy life. I have seen first hand the vital role that the physical activity sector – with its widespread workforce of coaches, youth workers, activity professionals, play workers, health mentors and community activators – has in helping to tackle childhood obesity.

But we also recognise that our sector cannot achieve its ambitions for a healthier Britain alone. We cannot afford to waste any more time on isolated approaches. We must seek consensus across all political parties that obesity is a complex disease for which no single cause or cure exists. It’s never been clearer that we need to develop a cross-party strategy that drives an integrated approach to this fundamental issue.

The diet and physical activity agendas are of equal importance, and both sectors have to work together. To shun a collaborative, holistic approach would be to jeopardise the future health and prosperity of the UK.

Tanni Grey-Thompson, a five-time Paralympian, chairs ukactive, promoting physical activity for children. She is a House of Lords crossbencher

Meat is crucial to balanced diet, Michael Gove tells farmers

Meat is a crucial part of a balanced diet, the environment secretary has said, as he told farmers about his “health and harmony” vision for food.

Michael Gove’s new vision for British agriculture post-Brexit envisages farmers playing a critical role in improving public health.

“There is a growing public interest in the impact of our current diet on our health,” he said. Non-communicable diseases such as heart and lung disease, cancer and diabetes accounted for 89% of deaths in the UK in 2014, according to the World Health Organization, he pointed out, and a major driver of that has been our diet: “the wrong fats, sugar, salt and other additives form too large a part of our national diet”.

Improving our national diet is an important job for our farmers, he told the audience: “A balanced diet, rich in fresh fruit and vegetables, beans, pulses and cereals, fresh dairy produce and protein sources such as fresh fish, offal and properly sourced meat is critical to human health and flourishing.”

Asked by the Guardian if, given the known environmental impacts of livestock farming, the government might consider suggesting that people reduce their meat consumption, Gove said: “For health reasons there’s an appropriate level of meat in anyone’s diet which doctors and nutritionists would advise us to consume.”

“It’s not my job to micro-manage what goes into a shopping basket,” he added, “but while I respect the rights of people who might be vegan or vegetarian to make that choice, nevertheless I don’t think anyone should be shy or abashed in drawing attention to the fact that livestock farming contributes to the mixed farming methods that provide a specific set of farming benefits and that mixed farming and meat is part of a balanced diet.”

But the discussion over whether humans need meat as a protein source is profoundly polarised. There is also much discussion over the health impacts of our current levels of meat consumption compared to predominantly plant-based diets.

Gove plans to redesign the farming subsidy system so farmers are paid for environmental services such as improving soils and levels of biodiversity, viewing Brexit as a unique opportunity. He faces an anxious sector with concerns ranging from falling incomes due to cheap food prices and international competition, to environmental issues like declining soil health.

The decline in numbers of small abattoirs was raised, and the challenges this presents to farmers around the country. Gove said there were discussions about how animals could be killed closer to where they were raised. He also spoke about plans to change labelling systems, saying: “I don’t want to take anything away from the work of Red Tractor and Leaf, but we can go further and develop a gold standard system of labelling.”

Richard Young of the Sustainable Farming Trust said: “We would argue that people should reduce their consumption of grain-fed meats. Two-thirds of British farmland is only suitable for grass.” Fully grass-fed cattle, the trust argues, can make a useful environmental contribution.

Meat is crucial to balanced diet, Michael Gove tells farmers

Meat is a crucial part of a balanced diet, the environment secretary has said, as he told farmers about his “health and harmony” vision for food.

Michael Gove’s new vision for British agriculture post-Brexit envisages farmers playing a critical role in improving public health.

“There is a growing public interest in the impact of our current diet on our health,” he said. Non-communicable diseases such as heart and lung disease, cancer and diabetes accounted for 89% of deaths in the UK in 2014, according to the World Health Organization, he pointed out, and a major driver of that has been our diet: “the wrong fats, sugar, salt and other additives form too large a part of our national diet”.

Improving our national diet is an important job for our farmers, he told the audience: “A balanced diet, rich in fresh fruit and vegetables, beans, pulses and cereals, fresh dairy produce and protein sources such as fresh fish, offal and properly sourced meat is critical to human health and flourishing.”

Asked by the Guardian if, given the known environmental impacts of livestock farming, the government might consider suggesting that people reduce their meat consumption, Gove said: “For health reasons there’s an appropriate level of meat in anyone’s diet which doctors and nutritionists would advise us to consume.”

“It’s not my job to micro-manage what goes into a shopping basket,” he added, “but while I respect the rights of people who might be vegan or vegetarian to make that choice, nevertheless I don’t think anyone should be shy or abashed in drawing attention to the fact that livestock farming contributes to the mixed farming methods that provide a specific set of farming benefits and that mixed farming and meat is part of a balanced diet.”

But the discussion over whether humans need meat as a protein source is profoundly polarised. There is also much discussion over the health impacts of our current levels of meat consumption compared to predominantly plant-based diets.

Gove plans to redesign the farming subsidy system so farmers are paid for environmental services such as improving soils and levels of biodiversity, viewing Brexit as a unique opportunity. He faces an anxious sector with concerns ranging from falling incomes due to cheap food prices and international competition, to environmental issues like declining soil health.

The decline in numbers of small abattoirs was raised, and the challenges this presents to farmers around the country. Gove said there were discussions about how animals could be killed closer to where they were raised. He also spoke about plans to change labelling systems, saying: “I don’t want to take anything away from the work of Red Tractor and Leaf, but we can go further and develop a gold standard system of labelling.”

Richard Young of the Sustainable Farming Trust said: “We would argue that people should reduce their consumption of grain-fed meats. Two-thirds of British farmland is only suitable for grass.” Fully grass-fed cattle, the trust argues, can make a useful environmental contribution.

Anti Diet Riot Club: the body-positivity meetings taking on ‘diet culture’

As anyone who has ever been to a Slimming World or Weight Watchers meeting will know, sharing your struggles and triumphs with a supportive group can be cathartic. But often conversations about weight come with a side order of food-shaming and guilt – is it possible to take a more positive approach?

That’s the concept behind London’s new Anti Diet Riot Club, which launched last Tuesday in Shoreditch, east London. From the packed venue, mostly filled with women in their 20s and 30s, it appears that the idea of taking body positivity from the internet to in-the-flesh meetings – with numerous midriffs proudly on display – has been a long time coming.

Founder Becky Young, 28, has struggled with body image and disordered eating since her teens and grew up worrying about everything from “not looking like characters on Sabrina the Teenage Witch” to not being able to exercise because of a bone disease. Since discovering the online “BoPo” (body positivity) community, she has tried to promote the idea that you can be happy whatever your size or weight, and now hopes to spread this message “in a human-to-human way, rather than as keyboard warriors”.

“We’re surrounded by diet talk in our homes and workplaces,” she says. “This is a small antidote to that.”

The club hopes to create “a supportive space for people to explore (and critique if need be) all the topics surrounding body acceptance” via a variety of events, from BoPo life drawing to yoga for all sizes.

At the inaugural meetup, author and campaigner Megan Jayne Crabbe delivered a diet-industry-bashing talk, before opening the floor to admissions of hidden eating disorders, struggles with body-shaming friends and a rousing enthusiasm for new ways to share the BoPo message. One woman confesses that she spends lots of time looking for #fitspo (“fitness inspiration”) on Instagram and wants to stop.

The club is also working with members to come up with a 10-point manifesto (“Like Fight Club but less aggressive,” says Young). Crop tops, thankfully, aren’t compulsory.

Anti Diet Riot Club’s next event, body-positive life-drawing, takes place on 2 April at Hoxton Square Bar and Kitchen, London N1

Radical diet can reverse type 2 diabetes, new study shows

A radical low-calorie diet can reverse type 2 diabetes, even six years into the disease, a new study has found.

The number of cases of type 2 diabetes is soaring, related to the obesity epidemic. Fat accumulated in the abdomen prevents the proper function of the pancreas. It can lead to serious and life-threatening complications, including blindness and foot amputations, heart and kidney disease.

A new study from Newcastle and Glasgow Universities shows that the disease can be reversed by losing weight, so that sufferers no longer have to take medication and are free of the symptoms and risks. Nine out of 10 people in the trial who lost 15kg (two-and-a-half stone) or more put their type 2 diabetes into remission.

Prof Roy Taylor from Newcastle University, lead researcher in the trial funded by Diabetes UK, said: “These findings are very exciting. They could revolutionise the way type 2 diabetes is treated. This builds on the work into the underlying cause of the condition, so that we can target management effectively.

“Substantial weight loss results in reduced fat inside the liver and pancreas, allowing these organs to return to normal function. What we’re seeing … is that losing weight isn’t just linked to better management of type 2 diabetes: significant weight loss could actually result in lasting remission.”

Worldwide, the number of people with type 2 diabetes has quadrupled over 35 years, rising from 108 million in 1980 to 422 million in 2014. This is expected to climb to 642 million by 2040. Type 2 diabetes affects almost 1 in 10 adults in the UK and costs the NHS about £14bn a year.

Type 2 diabetes is usually treated with medication and in some cases, bariatric surgery to restrict stomach capacity, which has also been shown to reverse the disease.

“Rather than addressing the root cause, management guidelines for type 2 diabetes focus on reducing blood sugar levels through drug treatments. Diet and lifestyle are touched upon, but diabetes remission by cutting calories is rarely discussed,” said Taylor.

“A major difference from other studies is that we advised a period of dietary weight loss with no increase in physical activity, but during the long-term follow up increased daily activity is important. Bariatric surgery can achieve remission of diabetes in about three-quarters of people, but it is more expensive and risky, and is only available to a small number of patients.”

The trial results, published in the Lancet and presented at the International Diabetes Federation Congress in Abu Dhabi, show that after one year, participants had lost an average of 10kg, and nearly half had reverted to a non-diabetic state.

There were 298 adults on the trial aged 20–65, who had been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes within the last six years, from 49 primary care practices in Scotland and Tyneside. Half of the practices put their patients on the very low calorie diet, while the rest were a control group, in which patients received usual care. Only 4% of the control group managed to achieve remission.

The diet was a formula of 825–853 calories per day for 3 to 5 months, followed by the stepped reintroduction of food over two to eight weeks. The participants were all given support throughout, including cognitive behaviour therapy and were encouraged to exercise.

“Our findings suggest that even if you have had type 2 diabetes for six years, putting the disease into remission is feasible”, says Prof Michael Lean from the University of Glasgow who co-led the study. “In contrast to other approaches, we focus on the need for long-term maintenance of weight loss through diet and exercise and encourage flexibility to optimise individual results.”

Isobel Murray, 65 from North Ayrshire, was one of those who took part. Over two years she lost three and a half stone (22kg) and no longer needs medication. “It has transformed my life,” she said. “I had type 2 diabetes for two to three years before the study. I was on various medications which were constantly increasing and I was becoming more and more ill every day.

“When the doctors told me that my pancreas was working again, it felt fantastic, absolutely amazing. I don’t think of myself as a diabetic anymore.”

Taylor said that the trail shows that the very large weight losses that bariatric surgery can bring about are not necessary to reverse the disease. “The weight loss goals provided by this programme are achievable for many people. The big challenge is long-term avoidance of weight re-gain,” he said.

Radical diet can reverse type 2 diabetes, new study shows

A radical low-calorie diet can reverse type 2 diabetes, even six years into the disease, a new study has found.

The number of cases of type 2 diabetes is soaring, related to the obesity epidemic. Fat accumulated in the abdomen prevents the proper function of the pancreas. It can lead to serious and life-threatening complications, including blindness and foot amputations, heart and kidney disease.

A new study from Newcastle and Glasgow Universities shows that the disease can be reversed by losing weight, so that sufferers no longer have to take medication and are free of the symptoms and risks. Nine out of 10 people in the trial who lost 15kg (two-and-a-half stone) or more put their type 2 diabetes into remission.

Prof Roy Taylor from Newcastle University, lead researcher in the trial funded by Diabetes UK, said: “These findings are very exciting. They could revolutionise the way type 2 diabetes is treated. This builds on the work into the underlying cause of the condition, so that we can target management effectively.

“Substantial weight loss results in reduced fat inside the liver and pancreas, allowing these organs to return to normal function. What we’re seeing … is that losing weight isn’t just linked to better management of type 2 diabetes: significant weight loss could actually result in lasting remission.”

Worldwide, the number of people with type 2 diabetes has quadrupled over 35 years, rising from 108 million in 1980 to 422 million in 2014. This is expected to climb to 642 million by 2040. Type 2 diabetes affects almost 1 in 10 adults in the UK and costs the NHS about £14bn a year.

Type 2 diabetes is usually treated with medication and in some cases, bariatric surgery to restrict stomach capacity, which has also been shown to reverse the disease.

“Rather than addressing the root cause, management guidelines for type 2 diabetes focus on reducing blood sugar levels through drug treatments. Diet and lifestyle are touched upon, but diabetes remission by cutting calories is rarely discussed,” said Taylor.

“A major difference from other studies is that we advised a period of dietary weight loss with no increase in physical activity, but during the long-term follow up increased daily activity is important. Bariatric surgery can achieve remission of diabetes in about three-quarters of people, but it is more expensive and risky, and is only available to a small number of patients.”

The trial results, published in the Lancet and presented at the International Diabetes Federation Congress in Abu Dhabi, show that after one year, participants had lost an average of 10kg, and nearly half had reverted to a non-diabetic state.

There were 298 adults on the trial aged 20–65, who had been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes within the last six years, from 49 primary care practices in Scotland and Tyneside. Half of the practices put their patients on the very low calorie diet, while the rest were a control group, in which patients received usual care. Only 4% of the control group managed to achieve remission.

The diet was a formula of 825–853 calories per day for 3 to 5 months, followed by the stepped reintroduction of food over two to eight weeks. The participants were all given support throughout, including cognitive behaviour therapy and were encouraged to exercise.

“Our findings suggest that even if you have had type 2 diabetes for six years, putting the disease into remission is feasible”, says Prof Michael Lean from the University of Glasgow who co-led the study. “In contrast to other approaches, we focus on the need for long-term maintenance of weight loss through diet and exercise and encourage flexibility to optimise individual results.”

Isobel Murray, 65 from North Ayrshire, was one of those who took part. Over two years she lost three and a half stone (22kg) and no longer needs medication. “It has transformed my life,” she said. “I had type 2 diabetes for two to three years before the study. I was on various medications which were constantly increasing and I was becoming more and more ill every day.

“When the doctors told me that my pancreas was working again, it felt fantastic, absolutely amazing. I don’t think of myself as a diabetic anymore.”

Taylor said that the trail shows that the very large weight losses that bariatric surgery can bring about are not necessary to reverse the disease. “The weight loss goals provided by this programme are achievable for many people. The big challenge is long-term avoidance of weight re-gain,” he said.