In a press release from the American Physiological Society, lead author of the recent study Christian Roberts of UCLA is quoted as saying: "The study shows, contrary to common belief, that type-2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome can be reversed solely through lifestyle changes."
This conclusion went against medical understanding of the condition. British charity, Diabetes UK, replied that diabetes could not be cured or reversed.
The disagreement has centred on the use of the word 'reversal'. A spokesperson from Diabetes UK told NutraIngredients.com: "Through dietary advice and physical activity weight loss can be promoted. The person then may be able to control his or her blood glucose level by diet alone. This means that there is no longer a need for medication."
"The person still has diabetes however. They have just changed their way of controlling the condition. If they were to regain weight or eat an unbalanced diet, then there would be a new need for medication."
This was echoed by the lead researcher from UCLA, who is also the Research Director of the Nathan Pritikin Research Foundation and Pritikin Center, Dr. R. James Barnard: "These [new] data are similar to other studies on the Pritikin Program (Diabetes Care Vol. 17 pp. 1469) showing that diet and exercise can control Type 2 diabetes."
An estimated 19 million people are affected by diabetes in the EU 25, equal to four per cent of the total population. This figure is projected to increase to 26 million by 2030.
In the US, there are over 20 million people with diabetes, equal to seven per cent of the population. The total costs are thought to be as much as $132 billion, with $92 billion being direct costs from medication, according to 2002 American Diabetes Association figures.