The research, recently published in the journal Diabetologia, reveals promising outcomes for individuals achieving remission from type 2 diabetes.
According to the study, those experiencing remission demonstrated a 40% lower rate of cardiovascular disease and a 33% lower rate of chronic kidney disease compared to counterparts who lost weight but did not enter remission.
Edward Gregg, PhD, a co-author of the study and a professor in the School of Population Health at the RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences in Dublin, Ireland, expressed optimism about the findings.
He stated, "As the first intervention study to associate remission with a reduction of diabetes-related complications, this is encouraging news for those who can achieve remission from type 2 diabetes."
The research examined data from participants in the Look AHEAD study, which compared the impact of 12 years of intensive lifestyle intervention with education and diabetes support. More than 5,000 adults aged 45 to 76, living with type 2 diabetes, took part in the study.
Analysis of the Look AHEAD study results revealed not only a lower rate of cardiovascular disease and chronic kidney disease in those who achieved remission but also showcased a greater reduction for those who experienced longer-term remission. Individuals with a remission period of at least four years exhibited a 55% reduction in chronic kidney disease rates and a 49% reduction in cardiovascular disease rates.
While acknowledging the study's promising outcomes, Dr. Jonathan Shaw, the deputy director of Clinical and Population Health at the Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute in Melbourne, Australia, urged caution in interpreting the results. He noted that while the analysis was conducted within a clinical trial, it was a non-randomized observational analysis. Shaw emphasized that people achieving remission might inherently be at a lower risk of cardiovascular and kidney diseases.
The study underscores the challenges of maintaining remission. A person is considered in remission from type 2 diabetes if they maintain normal blood glucose levels without diabetes medications for at least three months. The study found that while 11% of individuals experienced remission after one year of follow-up, this number decreased to just 4% by the eighth year.
Dr. Marilyn Tan, a clinical associate professor of medicine specializing in endocrinology at Stanford University School of Medicine, highlighted the importance of sustaining efforts to achieve remission. She emphasized the need for long-term sustainable approaches to diet and lifestyle changes, cautioning that restrictive diets, while effective in the short term, might not be maintainable in the long run. Tan noted that diabetes is multifactorial, and factors like genetics, other medical conditions, medications, and age can influence the likelihood of diabetes returning despite best efforts.