Diabetes: people who ‘can’t fit into jeans they wore aged 21’ risk developing the condition

Participants of the study followed a weight-loss programme that included a low-calorie liquid diet for two weeks

People risk developing type 2 diabetes if they can’t fit into the jeans they were wearing at the age of 21, one of the world’s leading experts on the disease has said.

Professor Roy Taylor, from Newcastle University, was presenting data at the European Association for the Study of Diabetes’ annual conference on an early study that found that people of normal weight with type 2 diabetes could “achieve remission” by losing weight.

It was found that eight in 12 people managed to “get rid” of their condition by losing 10 to 15% of their body weight.

The participants - who had type 2 diabetes despite having a “normal” body mass index (BMI) - were able to cut the levels of fat in the liver and pancreas. The activity of the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas was then deemed to be restored.

Those taking part followed a weight-loss programme that included a low-calorie liquid diet for two weeks.

Each day they were consuming only 800 calories a day through soups and shakes and they completed three rounds of this programme until they lost 10 to 15% of their body weight.

After weight loss was achieved, scans then showed reductions in the fat in the liver and eight of the 12 participants had their type 2 diabetes go into remission. This was defined as having blood sugar levels under control and patients no longer needing any medication.

Prof Taylor said: “Doctors tend to assume that type 2 diabetes has a different cause in those who are not overweight. What we’ve shown is that if those of normal weight lose 10 to 15% of their weight, they have a very good chance of getting rid of their diabetes.”

He said the results - which were preliminary - “demonstrate very clearly that diabetes is not caused by obesity but by being too heavy for your own body”.

“If you can’t get into the same size trousers now, you are carrying too much fat and therefore at risk of developing type 2 diabetes, even if you aren’t overweight,” Prof Taylor added.

Dr Lucy Chambers, the head of research communications at Diabetes UK, which funded the study, said she welcomed the findings but added that they were early. Full results are expected in 2022.