NHS expands ultra low-calorie diet roll-out to treat type 2 diabetes

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NHS England will prescribe an ultra low-calorie diet for people with type 2 diabetes as part of a new pilot trial.
The intervention has previously been shown in the Diabetes Remission Clinical Trial (DiRECT) study to help half of people with type 2 diabetes achieve remission.
The 800-calorie diet of soups and milkshakes is now to be rolled out across England to assess whether type 2 diabetes remission can be replicated in a broader population.
A total of 5,000 people will be prescribed the intervention for three months, along with follow-up support.
University of Oxford researchers recommended a low-calorie liquid diet earlier this year as an NHS obesity treatment based on findings published in The BMJ.
However, while low-calorie liquid diets are effective at putting type 2 diabetes into remission, the nutrient composition of these meals replacements has been questioned.
Alex Williams, Education Writer at Diabetes Digital Media, wrote earlier this year, “While caloric restriction via a diet of meal replacement shakes and soups may work for some people in the short term, it may not be effective or tolerable for others and may be missing out on some key points.
“Very low calorie diets are not sustainable in the long-term, as they’re unsuitable for weight maintenance, carbohydrate restriction offers a strategy that can be used for both weight loss and maintenance, without a focus on calories.”
Professor Jonathan Valabhji, national clinical director for diabetes and obesity for NHS England, said the intervention is worth adopting nationwide in a bid to help reverse rising rates of type 2 diabetes.
“We think it is worth exploring the implementation of these programmes within the NHS so that those who could benefit, can benefit,” he said.
The NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme is also being expanded to help an additional 200,000 people a year. So far, more than 250,000 people at high risk of type 2 diabetes have been referred to the programme.
Editor’s note: Diabetes Digital Media’s Low Carb Program is showing how people with type 2 diabetes can put the condition into remission by eating a healthy, real-food diet. The benefits include weight loss, reduced HbA1c, improved mood and greater energy.