Eating just 850 calories a day reverses type 2 diabetes, known as the 'lifestyle disease' because it's often triggered by a poor diet of processed foods with high sugar content.
Within a year, diabetes was in remission for half of a group of diabetics who went on the diet for between three to five months, researchers from the University of Newcastle discovered. In that time, each of the participants had lost an average of 10 kilos (22 lbs), although a quarter had lost 15 kg (33 lbs).
One of the researchers, Prof Michael Lean from the University of Glasgow, reckons that a low-calorie diet can reverse diabetes even after six years, and the process of recovery could be accelerated if the patient was also exercising.
For their test, the researchers tested the diet on 306 people who had been diagnosed with diabetes over the past six years. They were aged between 20 and 65 years, and they had a BMI (body mass index) of between 27 and 45. Half of the group was put on a strict low-calorie diet of between 825 and 850 calories a day for three to five months, while the rest continued to follow standard medical advice.
After a year, half of those on the low-calorie diet had reversed their diabetes, compared to just 6 per cent in the standard-care group, who also lost on average just 1 kg (2 lbs) in weight. Seven of those on the low-calorie diet reported minor health problems, including colic and abdominal pain in one participant, although none were so bad that they had to come off the diet.