The 'life changing' effects of losing weight for a Northumberland man with type two diabetes

Kieran pours juice
Kieran Ball began the trial with a strict calorie controlled regime and now eats a regular, healthy diet. Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

A man who took part in Newcastle University medical research examining the impact of weight loss on type two diabetes, has described the results as "life changing".

Kieran Ball, from Northumberland, began the trial soon after he was diagnosed with the condition a decade ago.

For the first four months of the study, he had to maintain a strict calorie controlled regime involving only liquids, in order to lose a significant amount of weight.

Looking back, Mr Ball said the challenges of those early days had been worthwhile.

He said: "Those initial sixteen weeks were horrendous but the benefits far outweigh anything."

For Mr Ball, the impact has been dramatic.

He was confirmed as being in remission from type two diabetes 12 months after joining the trial.

Now, eight years on from those initial steps, and back to eating a healthy regular diet, that is still the case.

Mr Ball told ITV Tyne Tees: "When I first found out that I was diabetic, it was almost like the world stops, what do I need to do now?"

He continued: "What this has shown is you can just sort it out, you've just got to have the right mindset and change your lifestyle."

Professor Roy Taylor led the Newcastle arm of the research. Credit: Newcastle University

The research, known as the Diabetes Remission Clinical Trial, or DiRECT, has involved Newcastle and Glasgow Universities.

The study has taken place in two stages.

An initial two year trial found remission from type two diabetes is possible using a dietary approach to weight loss.

The research was then extended for another three years and those findings have now been released.

  • They indicate that 23% of participants who were in remission after two years, remained in remission at five years.

  • Remission refers to when a person's blood sugar levels are brought back into non-diabetic range without the need for medication.

Source: Diabetes UK

The study was funded by the charity Diabetes UK.

Its Head of Research Communications, Dr Lucy Chambers told us: "Being in remission means you no longer need to take your diabetes medication, it means you have a significantly reduced risk of diabetes complications in the future and it also means you are free from all the self management of type two diabetes."

Dr Chambers cautioned that remission from type two diabetes through weight loss may not be permanent.

She explained: "Diabetes can come back if people regain the weight so it's not final, it's not a cure."

Recent figures from the charity indicate that more than 184,000 people in the North East live with a form of diabetes, a rise on the previous year's figure of around 177,000.

There are a number of risk factors, including being overweight.

Those involved in the research stress that not all type two diabetes patients will enter remission through losing weight.

However, they argue that weight loss can still have wider health benefits for those living with the condition, including a reduction in the risk of complications.

Back in Northumberland, Kieran Ball said his life had changed enormously since taking part in the trial.

"I'm not a saint," he said, "I do treat myself, but I am in a lot better place than I was in the beginning."

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