UK gripped by type 2 diabetes epidemic

A type 2 diabetes epidemic is gripping the UK. In just 20 years, rates have doubled, and the numbers are astronomical: 3.2 million people have it, an estimated 1.1 million are undiagnosed and 11.9 million are at risk, with another new case diagnosed every 2 minutes.

If you are overweight or obese, you could be one of them. Because excess weight is driving this epidemic, with around 85% of cases triggered by weight gain. And, contrary to popular opinion that type 2 isn’t as serious as type 1 (an autoimmune condition which destroys the pancreas’s insulin-producing cells), in some ways it can be worse.

Type 2 symptoms – like excessive thirst, weeing a lot, feeling tired, dizziness, nausea, increased appetite and blurred vision – can creep on so slowly that they are ignored until complications set in, including heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, nerve damage, poor wound healing, amputation and blindness.

So that’s the bad news. But there is great news, too. While type 2 diabetes has generally been considered a chronic, irreversible disease treatable only by medication – which, ironically, can cause weight gain and make it worse – that is changing.

New research, including the £2.4 million DiRECT trial , funded by Diabetes UK, is confirming what we’ve seen over the past 30 years at LighterLife: that when people with type 2 lose weight fast on a very-low-calorie diet (VLCD) like our Total plan, their blood sugar and insulin levels return to normal. To all intents and purposes, they no longer have type 2 diabetes.

LighterLife client Paul Donnelly  is living proof. Overweight and diagnosed with type 2 shortly after his 40th birthday, after four years on diabetes medication his weight had ballooned to 17st and he was told he would probably be dead by 50 if he continued on the same path. Paul joined LighterLife literally to save his life. Within just four weeks of starting the Total VLCD plan he had shed 2st and was off all his diabetic meds. He lost 6st 1lb in all, and two years on his blood sugar has never once spiked above the limit.

“I was told type 2 diabetes was for life and that the damage done to your pancreas was permanent and irreparable,” he says. “I wholeheartedly challenge that view. I am living proof you can reverse type 2 diabetes and the LighterLife VLCD played a massive part in it.”

Find out more about the common signs of type 2 diabetes, as well as a way to help manage or even reduce symptoms, at


*Please note that type 1 diabetes cannot be reversed through dietary changes.


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