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April 4, 2019

New research shows Type 2 diabetes now reversible, says British expert


April 4, 2019

New research has opened a new ray of hope for the diabetics as Type 2 diabetes is no longer a lifelong condition. With reduction of 15 kilograms of weight, low carbohydrates intake and other lifestyle modifications, diabetes can now be reversed, says a British expert of clinical epidemiology.

According to a new research, DIRECT (Diabetes Remission Clinical Trial), some diabetics can be taken back to normal and Type 2 diabetes can certainly be prevented for life, Prof Rhys Williams said while speaking with The News.

Professor Rhys Williams is a professor of Clinical Epidemiology, deputy head of the College of Medicine, Swansea University, UK, and visiting Pakistan as a keynote speaker for Sanofi’s 6th International Diabetes Conference 2019.

“Type 2 Diabetes now may not be a lifelong condition. The diabetic has to lose only 15kg of body weight and maintain it. With low carbohydrates, mostly liquid intake for eight to 12 weeks and maintaining weight, 46 per cent of Type 1 diabetics and 36 per cent of Type 2 diabetes have gradually returned to normal health. The diabetes may return if you put the weight back on.

“On a serious note, I would like to say that diabetes is a real important problem, which is growing, but there is some optimism because now it is preventable and reversible,” Professor explained.

Diabetes is more common in adults, though it is beginning to occur in children; hence it is being called Maturity onset diabetes. Real causes may be genetic, environmental factors, lack of physical activities and being overweight. Type 2 diabetes could be prevented by lifestyle managements and more and more physical activity.

Professor Williams advised Pakistanis to take diabetes seriously as it was becoming an epidemic in this country. He said, “Pakistanis are prone to diabetes due to eating habits containing high fats and sweets. The majority of population lacks exercise and physical activities. Type 2 diabetes has doubled in Pakistan from 1994-1998 to 2016-2017. As of today, one out of four adults has Type 2 Diabetes while one out of eight people are victims of pre-diabetes. Another alarming sign is that the difference in the number of diabetics in rural and urban population has dropped.

“The Middle East and Northern Africa region where Pakistan is situated, 39 million people were suffering from diabetes, and this figure is expected to rise to 82 million till 2045. Pakistan has got higher risks than the majority of other countries. Probably every family in Pakistan has at least one of their members suffering from diabetes. Globally, 4.25 million people have diabetes. It’s likely to become 629million in 2045.”

Professor Williams added: “Diabetes is more than a health condition. It affects human elements economically as well. It causes economic issues and burden as the victim has to meet higher costs of oral and other medicines, while keeping continuous checks of other organs like eyes, feet, kidneys and heart as well.”

Replying to another question about Ramazan, he said, “Ramazan is close and is well as being a religious and cultural activity. Reducing food intake during Ramazan is beneficial not only for people with Type 2 diabetes, but also for people at risk as well as normal people.”

Among other speakers at the conference were Professor Gerry Reyman and Professor A Samad Shera, who shared their opinions, insights, perspectives and best practices with healthcare professionals from across Pakistan.

They highlighted the criticality of good diabetes management by healthcare professionals in line with the latest scientific research in tandem with adherence by patients to prescribed therapies, oral or injected (insulin). This partnership between doctors and patients is essential to avoid or delay the onset of complications.

Call for action plan

Experts expressed the need for a National Action Plan on Diabetes at the 6th International Diabetes Conference that was held in Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi.

Speaking on “Screening and Prevention of Diabetic Foot Disease”, Prof Gerry Rayman said: “Neuropathy is common in people with diabetes because high blood sugar damages nerve fibers. A poorly controlled patient may have nerve damage leading to loss of sensation in his/her feet or other extremities. A thorough foot examination is important to detect the disease early. Screening for peripheral neuropathy and peripheral arterial disease can help identify patients at risk of foot ulcers.”

The secretary general of the Diabetic Association of Pakistan (DAP) and honorary president of the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), Prof A Samad Shera, stressed the need for a healthier lifestyle and regular screening for diabetes, particularly for those at high risk.

“According to a recent survey, every fourth person in Pakistan in the age group of 20 years and above has Type 2 diabetes. This calls for an urgent need to make changes in the national health policy and launch programs at school level to prevent this disease. Those at risk must be screened regularly as it is far better to get diagnosed and managed early rather than allow complications to set in before seeking medical advice.”

He also called for following the IDF slogan “Eat less, walk more” and said “all parents should ensure that their children avoid junk food and aerated drinks from 5 years of age, because overweight and obesity are the major risk factors for developing Type 2 diabetes.”