Lose the weight - and the diabetes: Healthcare group's latest battle plan in war against disease

4 days ago 40

Senior Health Correspondent

SINGAPORE - Diabetes can be reversed, even in people who have had it for several years. A study in Britain has proven that, and now, the National Healthcare Group (NHG) hopes to show that it can also work for Asians.

It is doing so throughthe Diabetes Reversal programme, which is aimed at enabling at least some diabetics here to become free of a disease that can lead to severe consequences like blindness, kidney failure and even death.

The trigger to reversing diabetes is to significantly reduce the weight of people who are overweight or obese, the target being a 10 per cent cut or a 15kg reduction over a period of six months.

Associate Professor Lim Su Chi, a senior consultantat Khoo Teck Puat Hospital (KTPH) and a principal investigator of the NHG programme, said: "Weight loss is the strongest link to remission. More than half of diabetics here are overweight or obese."

The British study found that the majority who were able to achieve the target weight loss were no longer diabetic. Those who remained diabetic after losing more than 15kg, had achieved better control of their sugar levels.

At the end of the first year, 46 per cent were no longer diabetic. However, not all were able to maintain this, with only 36 per cent staying free from diabetes at the end of the second year.

Associate Professor Tang Wern Ee, senior consultant at NHG Polyclinics (NHGP) and the programme's lead investigator, said that is still a very good outcome, as it means that more than one in three were free of the disease.

Diabetes is a major problem here, with more than 400,000 people living with the disease. If nothing is done, the number of diabetics here is projected to surpass one million by 2050 and cost the country US$1.8 billion (S$2.5 billion).

In 2016, the Ministry of Health (MOH) declared a war on diabetes to try to slow the increase in numbers. Peo...

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