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Losing visceral fat is more effective than weight loss in reversing diabetes

A recent study showed that weight loss might reverse type 2 diabetes even in those whose weight falls within the moderate BMI range.

All participants followed a low calorie diet for 2 weeks, consuming no more than 800 calories each day. The researchers then supported them to maintain their new weight for 4–6 weeks. They completed this cycle two or three times until all participants had reduced their body weight by 10–15%. The researchers measured each participants’ visceral fat and insulin sensitivity before, during, and after the study.

At the end of the study, the researchers matched the people with diabetes with control participants of the same age, sex, and BMI. The scientists found that the individuals with diabetes lost more than twice as much fat in their liver compared with the controls. In the diabetes group, fat in the pancreas reduced from 5.1% to 4.5%. Also, their average triglyceride levels fell from 1.6 millimoles per liter to 1.0 millimoles per liter — a significant reduction similar to the control group. Most significantly, two-thirds of the participants found that their type 2 diabetes went into remission and could stop taking their medication.

Prof. Roy Taylor, Director of the Newcastle Magnetic Resonance Centre at Newcastle University, UK, added that these results, while preliminary, demonstrated that diabetes is not necessarily caused by obesity. It’s due to having too much fat in the liver and pancreas, whatever the BMI. In the liver, this excess visceral fat prevents insulin from working normally. In the pancreas, it causes the beta cells to stop producing insulin.

These findings are fascinating and indicate that weight loss is also important in non-obese individuals with type 2 diabetes.



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