Low Calorie Diets... The Answer To Type 2 Diabetes?

Last week the NHS came out with a new dietary approach to treating type 2 diabetes. They claimed that in their study of 298 people almost 50% managed to put their diabetes into remission following a very low calorie diet. As a result the NHS have decided to roll this out to more than 5,000 people in the UK.

The diet consists of meal replacement powdered shakes and soups and is based around 800kcals per day for three months.

I wanted to take the opportunity this week to share my views and some key considerations which should be taken into account this this approach:

1.       Safety

There is a reason this dietary approach can only be utilised for three months. That’s because a very low calorie diet (800kcals or less) is not enough to provide all the necessary nutrients or energy to achieve or maintain health.

2.       Sustainability

Due to the nature of this approach (namely diet shakes and very little energy) it’s very difficult to sustain and maintain a normal daily functioning. Quite simply 800kcals a day is not enough to be able to support the requirements of everyday life and this may have an impact on the individual’s quality of life, social life, mental well being and cognitive function and work performance.

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3.       Poor scientific research

The pilot study was conducted on 298 people which considering this is an approach which is going to be in used in the UK’s national health service is not enough. The results showed that nearly half the study’s population managed to put their type 2 diabetes into remission. Although it is questionable whether this statistic is enough to roll out the programme.

4.       Education

What happens following the programme? This approach isn’t focussed around education or encouraging individuals to change their habits or taste preferences. Following a very low calorie diet there are huge risks of regaining the weight (and more). Additionally, this approach may lead to impacts on individual’s social lives as this approach doesn’t support eating out.

Whilst the NHS do currently run diabetes management programmes as a form of education maybe it’s time they started to look at the effects of diabetes prevention education?

Whilst this approach has shown some benefits I think there are many other factors to consider and question with this approach. I hope you have enjoyed this response piece. As always I welcome feedback!