Very low calorie diet for type 2 diabetes to be prescribed


General Practitioners in England would soon prescribe a very low calorie diet (VLCD) for patients with type 2 diabetes in England as part of an attempt to reverse the increasingly growing numbers of the disease.

The VLCD is to comprise of food with 800 calories per day for three months. The diet is to comprise only of soups and shakes. This diet underwent clinical trials last year when it was seen that those with type 2 diabetes lost weight and there was a remission in their condition. NHS England has now announced that they would expand the programme to help people with diabetes benefit from it.

The NHS England also said that at present 10 percent of the total budget spent on health is being spent on diabetes and its related conditions. This project aims at reducing the numbers and expenditure related to diabetes. Nine in ten people living with diabetes are suffering from type 2 diabetes. This form of diabetes is linked to obesity and lack of physical activity. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disorder and is not associated with being overweight or leading a sedentary life.

At first the pilot programme is to involve only 5,000 patients who will be followed up after the initial 3 months of treatment. The recent trials including 298 individuals results had shown that there was a satisfactory weight loss after this therapy followed by a complete weaning off from diabetes medication.

Diabetes UK chief executive Chris Askew in a statement said, “The first year results of Diabetes UK DiRECT study showed that – for some people with type 2 diabetes – an intensive, low-calorie weight loss programme delivered with ongoing support through primary care could put their condition into remission… While this ground-breaking study continues to explore how long-lasting these benefits are, we are delighted that NHS England have been inspired by this work to pilot a type 2 remission programme through the NHS.”

Prof Jonathan Valabhji, national clinical director for diabetes and obesity for NHS England warned that this diet however would not suit everyone. He said, “But we think it is worth exploring the implementation of these programmes within the NHS so that those who could benefit, can benefit.”

Around two thirds of all adults and one third of the children are presently obese or overweight making them at risk of type 2 diabetes say experts. Reduction of the prevalence of diabetes requires prevention programmes. Over the last three years programmes prescribing a healthy balanced diet as well as regular physical activity have been moderately successful.

Nearly 250,000 people with borderline type 2 diabetes who could have gone on to develop full blown diabetes have been given advice on diet and exercise and they have benefited from these programmes. On an average these individuals have lost around 3.6 kg in weight and this has reduced their risk of getting type 2 diabetes. This programme would now target around 200,000 people annually.

The NHS England is soon to announce its “Forward Plan” where preventive measures would be taken to reduce ill health and disease.

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