Losing weight can reverse Type 2 diabetes for at least two years, a study has found.
A weight management trial showed that 36pc of people with the condition who spent up to five months on a strict diet were still in remission two years later.
The scientists behind the study said their findings prove that Type 2 diabetes is not “an inevitably progressive disease”.
They have suggested that significant weight loss is closely linked with sustaining remission of the condition.
Around 300 people in Scotland and Tyneside in England with Type 2 diabetes were recruited for the test, funded by charity Diabetes UK.
Half received standard diabetes care from their GPs, and half were put under weight management, involving a diet of around 800 calories a day for up to five months.
Each of the dieters was supported by a nurse or dietitian to maintain their weight.
The first year results, published in 2017, showed that 46pc of participants had reversed their Type 2 diabetes after one year.
In the latest findings of the Diabetes Remission Clinical Trial (DiRECT), 64pc of those who lost more than 10kg through the programme were in remission after two years.
Those in remission after the first year, who remained free of Type 2 diabetes in the second year, had an average weight loss of 15.5kg.
Among those who did not stay in remission, the average weight loss was 12kg.
The results of the trial, carried out by Newcastle University and the University of Glasgow, were published in ‘The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology’ journal.
Professor Roy Taylor, of Newcastle University, said: “These results are a significant development, and finally pull down the curtain on the era of Type 2 diabetes as an inevitably progressive disease.
“We now understand the biological nature of this reversible condition. However, everyone in remission needs to know that evidence to date tells us that your Type 2 diabetes will return if you regain weight.
“Even during the second year of freedom from Type 2 diabetes, there was a highly suggestive difference in major complications of diabetes.
“Further information on this must be gathered during the longer term follow-up.”
Type 2 diabetes is a common condition that causes the level of glucose in the blood to become too high.
The researchers believe weight loss can lower levels of fat inside the pancreas, helping it to recover and aiding production of insulin.
Dr Elizabeth Robertson, of Diabetes UK, said: “These results further challenge the perception that Type 2 diabetes needs to be a lifelong condition for everyone.
“Remission can be life-changing. DiRECT offers one potential solution. We are committed to working to ensure these exciting findings reach people with Type 2 diabetes as soon as possible.”