Defeat Diabetes

3 in 4 patients achieve type 2 diabetes remission within first year of diagnosis

2 mins read

Those familiar with low carb diets will know Dr David Unwin, a UK family physician (GP) and researcher widely credited with pioneering the treatment of type 2 diabetes through a low carb approach. His work, along with an ever-growing body of evidence, shows sustained remission of type 2 diabetes is well established but is not yet routinely pursued.

He has recently published incredible results in the British Journal of Medicine of an eight-year study with 9,800 patients from his UK clinic:

  • 97% of patients following a low carbohydrate approach had improved diabetic control. 
  • 77% of patients achieved type 2 diabetes remission when starting a low carbohydrate approach within the first year after diagnosis.
  • 93% of those with pre-diabetes achieved normal blood glucose levels.

The study method

  • Advice on a lower carbohydrate diet and weight loss was offered routinely to people with T2D between 2013 and 2021.
  • Conventional ‘one-to-one’ GP consultations were used, supplemented by group consultations and personal phone calls as necessary. 
  • Those interested in participating were computer coded for ongoing audit to compare ‘baseline’ with ‘latest follow-up’ for relevant parameters.

Weight loss results

  • Patients on a low carbohydrate approach achieved a median weight loss of 10 kg after an average of 33 months.  

Type 2 diabetes remission results

  • Median HbA1c fell from 7.9% to 6.4%.
  • Type 2 diabetes remission was achieved in 77% of those with type 2 diabetes duration less than 1 year after diagnosis, falling to 20% remission for patients diagnosed longer than 15 years ago. 
  • Overall, remission was achieved in 51% of the study participants.

Medication savings

  • There were major prescribing savings; the average clinic spend was £4.94 per patient per year on drugs for diabetes compared with £11.30 for other local practices. 
  • In the year ending January 2022, Dr Unwin’s clinic spent £68,353 per year less than the area average.

Key takeaways

  • 77% of those adopting a low-carbohydrate approach in the first year of their type 2 diabetes diagnosis achieved remission. 
  • Advice and ongoing guidance on a low carbohydrate diet in primary care can improve diabetic control for 97% of those interested in the approach, sustained for an average of 33 months.
  • Those patients who started with ‘younger’ diabetes and lower HbA1c were far more likely to achieve remission.
  • The first 12 months following a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes represents an important window of opportunity for achieving drug-free remission.
  • Those in the non-remission group achieved unexpectedly greater, clinically important improvements in diabetic control with the diet, with the greatest improvements in HbA1c. 

Defeat Diabetes research among our members reveals similar results, with 2 in 3 members returning their blood glucose levels to non-diabetic levels. 88% of members reported improved glycaemic control, and an incredible 92% achieved weight loss, 8 kg on average. 

The recent findings from Dr Unwin’s research, as well as numerous other studies and our own member results, clearly indicate that for those people living with type 2 diabetes, a low carb approach is the most likely predictor of achieving remission, as well as overall improvement of blood glucose control. 

Surely, advising patients of the benefits of a low carb approach should be the first step once the warning signs of type 2 diabetes are evident? 


More from Dr David Unwin: Defeat Diabetes webinar ‘Can low carb reverse type 2 diabetes?’

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