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Study Says Some Type 2 Remissions Possible With Exercise, Diet

One out of nine type 2s who followed an intensive diet and exercise program for one year were able to record normal or prediabetes-level blood sugar levels, according to a study recently released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In the multi-year study, which has been published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, 11.5 percent—roughly one in nine—of the type 2 patients who followed a rigorous diet and exercise routine were able to drop their blood sugar levels below the diabetes threshold of 126 mg/dL without the use of medication. This compared to 2 percent of patients in a non-diet, non-exercise control group who were able to achieve the same result.

The diet called for a daily intake of 1,200 to 1,800 calories, including beverages, and physical activity adding up to just under three hours per week. 

Researchers noted that patients most likely to achieve remission of diabetes-level blood sugar measurements had been diagnosed with type 2 for fewer years, and lost more weight and achieved greater fitness during the course of the study than their peers. 

In a majority of cases, improvements in blood sugar levels were not sustained. Researchers said less than one third of the type 2s who had achieved lowered blood sugars (a bit less than 4 percent of the entire diet-and-exercise study group) were able to maintain them longer than four years.

While type 2s who were able to regain normal blood sugar levels were in remission, researchers cautioned that remissions are not cures and that their length can be uncertain. However, achieving lower blood sugar levels helps patients avoid long-term diabetic complications and to cease using medications.

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