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04 June 2023

News from Europe

The DiRECT road to remission: type 2 diabetes and low-calorie diet

Professor Roy Taylor (left) and Professor Mike Lean (right) leading the DiRECT studyPeople with Type 2 diabetes in the UK are currently being recruited to take part in the single largest research study ever funded by charity Diabetes UK. Professor Mike Lean of the University of Glasgow and Professor Roy Taylor of Newcastle University are leading a five-year clinical trial worth over £2.4 million to find out if low-calorie diets can be used to put Type 2 diabetes into long-term remission as part of routine diabetes care.

DiRECT (Diabetes Remission Clinical Trial) will see 140 people with Type 2 diabetes spend between eight and 20 weeks eating just 800 calories per day, in the form of diet soups or shakes. Then, as normal meals are reintroduced, they will receive support to change their lifestyles permanently. Each participant will be monitored over the next two years and their results compared with those from another 140 people, who will receive the best existing advice on managing weight instead of the diet. Some of the participants will also undergo MRI scans, to uncover what is happening inside their bodies as they follow the diet.

The research builds on a study from 2011, in which 11 people with Type 2 diabetes saw their insulin production return to normal and their Type 2 diabetes go into remission after eight weeks on a low-calorie diet. Although such diets are certainly not a 'quick fix' for Type 2 diabetes, this work could have a dramatic impact on the way the condition is managed by doctors. Ultimately, it is hoped that this new approach to weight management could provide an accessible way to help millions of people manage the condition more effectively and reduce their risk of serious health complications, without the need for invasive weight loss surgery.

Further information about DiRECT is available on the Diabetes UK website.

A recent public lecture by DiRECT lead researcher Professor Roy Taylor, University of Newcastle is available here.