It’s 10 years since Professor Roy Taylor revolutionized treatment for type 2 diabetes with a groundbreaking study that showed the disease could be reversed through rapid weight loss. Until his research was published, type 2 diabetes was thought to be an incurable, lifelong condition. Now, for many people, we know it is not.
But his achievements – and the thousands of people he has cured – are not something he dwells upon. “I’m in a very lucky position of being able to do this research,” he says, “which really extends what I’ve been doing as a doctor throughout my life.” He laughs at the suggestion that he must occasionally marvel at his own success: “No, no,” he chuckles. “Lots of occupations make a useful contribution to society. I wouldn’t set myself apart.”
Modest words for a man whose “useful contribution to society” has given hope to the 3.9m people diagnosed with the condition in the UK and who has shown doctors a new way to fight a disease which causes 185 amputations and 700 premature deaths every week.
Now, he wants to go one step further and share everything he has learned directly with the public, in a new book, Your Simple Guide to Reversing Type 2 Diabetes. It’s a 153-page paperback that takes you through the latest research on how the disease develops and explains why rapid weight loss can be so effective at reversing the condition in the early stages – which usually means during the first six years of a diagnosis.
“If people really do want to make it happen, then in the first few years of diagnosis, it’s almost universal that their health can be returned to normal,” says Taylor, who is professor of medicine and metabolism at Newcastle University. In one study, he found that nine out of 10 people with “early” type 2 diabetes were cured after losing more than 2½st (15kg).
The book also explains who is at greatest risk and why some people who have a “normal” Body Mass Index (BMI) develop the disease, when many people who are more overweight – or even obese – do not.
Taylor’s “Newcastle” weight loss program is a clinically proven method of reversing early type 2 diabetes and his approach is currently being rolled out to people with the condition by the NHS. It involves cutting your calorie intake to 700-800 calories a day. In the book, he explains how the people in his program managed to do this – typically by consuming only slimming meal shakes and non-starchy vegetables, plus one cup of tea or coffee each day with skimmed milk – lost a life-changing amount of weight in just eight weeks. And how you can do the same, safely, at home.
In other words, it is a book that has all the hallmarks of becoming a massive bestseller. But Taylor himself will not make a penny from it. He is donating 100% of his proceeds from the book to the charity Diabetes UK, which is “only logical”, he tells me, because they funded his original 2011 study. “That was so far sighted of them,” he says. “They supported research that I know the experts thought was outlandish.” He says just one person at the research committee meeting spoke up for his proposal and convinced the others by saying: “It might sound crazy, but if he’s right, it would be really important.”
Taylor decided to write the book because, even though most diabetes experts in the UK have now accepted that his rapid weight loss program works, many doctors in Europe and the USA remain unconvinced. “It’s not easy to get new ideas accepted in medicine. So it will be a while before this gets into the textbooks and generations of doctors are taught about it.”
In the meantime, he feels it is his job – his “duty” even – to make people aware of the discoveries he and others have made in recent years. “I feel a responsibility for passing on this knowledge.”
One of Taylor’s most important new discoveries is that everyone has their own fat threshold: an individual level of tolerance for levels of fat in the body. “It’s a personal thing. It’s nothing to do with the sort of information that’s often provided about obesity, which is about average BMI and what the population is doing. The bottom line is, a person will develop type 2 diabetes when they’ve become too heavy for their own body. It doesn’t matter if their BMI is within the ‘normal’ range. They’ve crossed their personal threshold and become unhealthy.”
He is currently in the middle of research to find out whether there’s any way of discovering, via a blood test, when people are heading into this dangerous territory and their fat cells are putting out what he describes as “distress signals”.
What we do know already is that our bodies start to have trouble controlling blood sugar when fat can no longer be stored safely under the skin and it spills over into the liver and then the pancreas. If these organs get clogged with fat, they stop functioning properly and that is when you develop type 2 diabetes.
It is particularly important to note that if you have a family history of type 2 diabetes, you are more susceptible genetically. People in these circumstances need to be “very careful” about weight, especially in adult life, Taylor says. “If you’ve increased weight quite a lot above what you were at the age of 21, you’re in the danger zone – and you should get out of it. If you’ve got a family tendency for diabetes, then you really want to avoid weight gain in adult life.”
As Taylor explains in his book, if you have increased your BMI by three units or more since you were in your early 20s, you are at risk. It doesn’t matter how slim you look to other people. “People imagine that if everybody says they’re slim, they won’t get type 2 diabetes, but in fact that’s not true. Our present research involves people who are not obese, and indeed, have a normal BMI.”
This explains why only half of people are clinically obese when they are first diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, and why studies have shown that almost three-quarters of extremely obese people, with a BMI of over 45, do not suffer from type 2 diabetes. “Some people can put on glorious amounts of fat and store it all under the skin without any metabolic problems at all.”
Taylor also says that it’s important to bear in mind that type 2 diabetes can, at first, be symptomless, so people at risk may wish to get an annual test done via their GP. A simple finger-prick blood test, which gives an immediate blood sugar level result, can be done in many chemists. Signals to look out for include increasing tiredness and, especially, increasing thirst, and a tendency to have more skin infections, “like boils for instance, or candida,” Taylor says.
Rapidly decreasing body weight by 2½st (16kg) will take most people below their personal fat threshold, dramatically lowering their risk. For this reason, “the book goes through the steps that people need to follow to lose a substantial amount of weight and then keep it off”.
Taylor hopes that by writing a paperback in simple, accessible language, he will reach people who are heading towards or have already received a diagnosis and want to learn more about his research. “I’ve realized there is an enormous thirst out there for exact knowledge about how people can deal with this disease themselves, using the new information that we have.” He also wants to explain to as many people as possible what causes type 2 diabetes so individuals feel empowered to make healthy decisions about their body and the food they eat.
“This book is for anyone who wants to understand what happens to food after they swallow it and how that’s handled by their body. And also, critically, how that affects their health.” For example, he has found most people don’t realise that if you eat more carbohydrates or protein than your body needs, the excess is converted into fat and then stored.
This is a million miles from “fat shaming”, he says, and it is up to each person to decide for themselves whether they are too heavy for their own health and happiness. “What I can point out as a doctor are the circumstances that come about when people have crossed their personal fat threshold,” he says. “There’s no judgment on a person who happens to be heavy, compared with someone who happens not to be. It’s about helping individuals who would otherwise run into trouble.”
By: Donna Ferguson
- “Diabetes Fact sheet N°312”. World Health Organization. August 2011. Archived from the original on 26 August 2013. Retrieved 2012-01-09.
- “Diabetes Blue Circle Symbol”. International Diabetes Federation. 17 March 2006. Archived from the original on 5 August 2007.
- “Diagnosis of Diabetes and Prediabetes”. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. June 2014. Archived from the original on 6 March 2016. Retrieved 10 February 2016.
- Pasquel FJ, Umpierrez GE (November 2014). “Hyperosmolar hyperglycemic state: a historic review of the clinical presentation, diagnosis, and treatment”. Diabetes Care. 37 (11): 3124–31. doi:10.2337/dc14-0984. PMC 4207202. PMID 25342831.
- Fasanmade OA, Odeniyi IA, Ogbera AO (June 2008). “Diabetic ketoacidosis: diagnosis and management”. African Journal of Medicine and Medical Sciences. 37 (2): 99–105. PMID 18939392.
- “Causes of Diabetes”. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. June 2014. Archived from the original on 2 February 2016. Retrieved 10 February 2016.
- Maruthur NM, Tseng E, Hutfless S, Wilson LM, Suarez-Cuervo C, Berger Z, Chu Y, Iyoha E, Segal JB, Bolen S (June 2016). “Diabetes Medications as Monotherapy or Metformin-Based Combination Therapy for Type 2 Diabetes: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis”. Annals of Internal Medicine. 164 (11): 740–51. doi:10.7326/M15-2650. PMID 27088241. S2CID 32016657.
- Cetinkunar S, Erdem H, Aktimur R, Sozen S (June 2015). “Effect of bariatric surgery on humoral control of metabolic derangements in obese patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus: How it works”. World Journal of Clinical Cases. 3 (6): 504–9. doi:10.12998/wjcc.v3.i6.504. PMC 4468896. PMID 26090370.
- Krentz AJ, Bailey CJ (February 2005). “Oral antidiabetic agents: current role in type 2 diabetes mellitus”. Drugs. 65 (3): 385–411. doi:10.2165/00003495-200565030-00005. PMID 15669880. S2CID 29670619.
- Melmed, Shlomo; Polonsky, Kenneth S.; Larsen, P. Reed; Kronenberg, Henry M., eds. (2011). Williams textbook of endocrinology (12th ed.). Philadelphia: Elsevier/Saunders. pp. 1371–1435. ISBN 978-1-4377-0324-5.
- Vos T, Allen C, Arora M, Barber RM, Bhutta ZA, Brown A, et al. (GBD 2015 Disease and Injury Incidence and Prevalence Collaborators) (October 2016). “Global, regional, and national incidence, prevalence, and years lived with disability for 310 diseases and injuries, 1990-2015: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2015”. Lancet. 388 (10053): 1545–1602. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(16)31678-6. PMC 5055577. PMID 27733282.
- MacKay, Ian; Rose, Noel, eds. (2014). The Autoimmune Diseases. Academic Press. p. 575. ISBN 978-0-123-84929-8. OCLC 965646175.
- Gardner, David G.; Shoback, Dolores, eds. (2011). “Chapter 17: Pancreatic hormones & diabetes mellitus”. Greenspan’s basic & clinical endocrinology (9th ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill Medical. ISBN 978-0-07-162243-1. OCLC 613429053.
- Saenz A, Fernandez-Esteban I, Mataix A, Ausejo M, Roque M, Moher D (July 2005). Saenz A (ed.). “Metformin monotherapy for type 2 diabetes mellitus”. The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (3): CD002966. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD002966.pub3. PMID 16034881. (Retracted)
- Malanda UL, Welschen LM, Riphagen II, Dekker JM, Nijpels G, Bot SD (January 2012). “Self-monitoring of blood glucose in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus who are not using insulin”. The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 1: CD005060. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD005060.pub3. hdl:1871/48558. PMID 22258959.
- Ganguly S, Tan HC, Lee PC, Tham KW (April 2015). “Metabolic bariatric surgery and type 2 diabetes mellitus: an endocrinologist’s perspective”. Journal of Biomedical Research. 29 (2): 105–11. doi:10.7555/JBR.29.20140127. PMC 4389109. PMID 25859264.
- Moscou, Susan (2013). “Getting the word out: advocacy, social marketing, and policy development and enforcement”. In Truglio-Londrigan, Marie; Lewenson, Sandra B. (eds.). Public health nursing: practicing population-based care (2nd ed.). Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning. p. 317. ISBN 978-1-4496-4660-8. OCLC 758391750.
- Smyth S, Heron A (January 2006). “Diabetes and obesity: the twin epidemics”. Nature Medicine. 12 (1): 75–80. doi:10.1038/nm0106-75. PMID 16397575. S2CID 1042625.
- Tfayli H, Arslanian S (March 2009). “Pathophysiology of type 2 diabetes mellitus in youth: the evolving chameleon”. Arquivos Brasileiros de Endocrinologia e Metabologia. 53 (2): 165–74. doi:10.1590/s0004-27302009000200008. PMC 2846552. PMID 19466209.
- Imperatore G, Boyle JP, Thompson TJ, Case D, Dabelea D, Hamman RF, Lawrence JM, Liese AD, Liu LL, Mayer-Davis EJ, Rodriguez BL, Standiford D (December 2012). “Projections of type 1 and type 2 diabetes burden in the U.S. population aged <20 years through 2050: dynamic modeling of incidence, mortality, and population growth”. Diabetes Care. 35 (12): 2515–20. doi:10.2337/dc12-0669. PMC 3507562. PMID 23173134.
- Leutholtz BC, Ripoll I (2011). “Diabetes”. Exercise and disease management (2nd ed.). Boca Raton: CRC Press. p. 25. ISBN 978-1-4398-2759-8. OCLC 725919496.
- Zaccardi F, Webb DR, Yates T, Davies MJ (February 2016). “Pathophysiology of type 1 and type 2 diabetes mellitus: a 90-year perspective”. Postgraduate Medical Journal. 92 (1084): 63–9. doi:10.1136/postgradmedj-2015-133281. PMID 26621825. S2CID 28169759.
- Vijan S (March 2010). “In the clinic. Type 2 diabetes”. Annals of Internal Medicine. 152 (5): ITC31–15, quiz ITC316. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-152-5-201003020-01003. PMID 20194231. S2CID 207535925.
- Rathee, Manu; Jain, Prachi (2019). “Ageusia”. StatPearls. StatPearls Publishing.
- Ripsin CM, Kang H, Urban RJ (January 2009). “Management of blood glucose in type 2 diabetes mellitus”. American Family Physician. 79 (1): 29–36. PMID 19145963.
- Pasquier F (October 2010). “Diabetes and cognitive impairment: how to evaluate the cognitive status?”. Diabetes & Metabolism. 36 Suppl 3: S100-5. doi:10.1016/S1262-3636(10)70475-4. PMID 21211730.
- Akinpelu, Olubunmi V.; Mujica-Mota, Mario; Daniel, Sam J. (March 2014). “Is type 2 diabetes mellitus associated with alterations in hearing? A systematic review and meta-analysis”. The Laryngoscope. 124 (3): 767–776. doi:10.1002/lary.24354. ISSN 1531-4995. PMID 23945844. S2CID 25569962.
- Risérus U, Willett WC, Hu FB (January 2009). “Dietary fats and prevention of type 2 diabetes”. Progress in Lipid Research. 48 (1): 44–51. doi:10.1016/j.plipres.2008.10.002. PMC 2654180. PMID 19032965.
- Hilawe, Esayas Haregot; Yatsuya, Hiroshi; Kawaguchi, Leo; Aoyama, Atsuko (1 September 2013). “Differences by sex in the prevalence of diabetes mellitus, impaired fasting glycaemia and impaired glucose tolerance in sub-Saharan Africa: a systematic review and meta-analysis”. Bulletin of the World Health Organization. 91 (9): 671–682D. doi:10.2471/BLT.12.113415. PMC 3790213. PMID 24101783.
- Christian P, Stewart CP (March 2010). “Maternal micronutrient deficiency, fetal development, and the risk of chronic disease”. The Journal of Nutrition. 140 (3): 437–45. doi:10.3945/jn.109.116327. PMID 20071652.
- Pedersen HK, Gudmundsdottir V, Nielsen HB, Hyotylainen T, Nielsen T, Jensen BA, et al. (July 2016). “Human gut microbes impact host serum metabolome and insulin sensitivity”. Nature. 535 (7612): 376–81. Bibcode:2016Natur.535..376P. doi:10.1038/nature18646. PMID 27409811. S2CID 4459808.
- Abdullah A, Peeters A, de Courten M, Stoelwinder J (September 2010). “The magnitude of association between overweight and obesity and the risk of diabetes: a meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies”. Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice. 89 (3): 309–19. doi:10.1016/j.diabres.2010.04.012. PMID 20493574.
- Pan A, Wang Y, Talaei M, Hu FB, Wu T (December 2015). “Relation of active, passive, and quitting smoking with incident type 2 diabetes: a systematic review and meta-analysis”. The Lancet. Diabetes & Endocrinology. 3 (12): 958–67. doi:10.1016/S2213-8587(15)00316-2. PMC 4656094. PMID 26388413.
- Touma C, Pannain S (August 2011). “Does lack of sleep cause diabetes?”. Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine. 78 (8): 549–58. doi:10.3949/ccjm.78a.10165. PMID 21807927. S2CID 45708828.
- Malik VS, Popkin BM, Bray GA, Després JP, Hu FB (March 2010). “Sugar-sweetened beverages, obesity, type 2 diabetes mellitus, and cardiovascular disease risk”. Circulation. 121 (11): 1356–64. doi:10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.109.876185. PMC 2862465. PMID 20308626.
- Malik VS, Popkin BM, Bray GA, Després JP, Willett WC, Hu FB (November 2010). “Sugar-sweetened beverages and risk of metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes: a meta-analysis”. Diabetes Care. 33 (11): 2477–83. doi:10.2337/dc10-1079. PMC 2963518. PMID 20693348.
- Hu EA, Pan A, Malik V, Sun Q (March 2012). “White rice consumption and risk of type 2 diabetes: meta-analysis and systematic review”. BMJ. 344: e1454. doi:10.1136/bmj.e1454. PMC 3307808. PMID 22422870.
- Lee IM, Shiroma EJ, Lobelo F, Puska P, Blair SN, Katzmarzyk PT (July 2012). “Effect of physical inactivity on major non-communicable diseases worldwide: an analysis of burden of disease and life expectancy”. Lancet. 380 (9838): 219–29. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(12)61031-9. PMC 3645500. PMID 22818936.
- Lind L, Lind PM (June 2012). “Can persistent organic pollutants and plastic-associated chemicals cause cardiovascular disease?”. Journal of Internal Medicine. 271 (6): 537–53. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2796.2012.02536.x. PMID 22372998. S2CID 41018361.
- Willemsen, Gonneke; Ward, Kirsten J.; Bell, Christopher G.; Christensen, Kaare; Bowden, Jocelyn; Dalgård, Christine; Harris, Jennifer R.; Kaprio, Jaakko; Lyle, Robert; Magnusson, Patrik K. E.; Mather, Karen A. (December 2015). “The Concordance and Heritability of Type 2 Diabetes in 34,166 Twin Pairs From International Twin Registers: The Discordant Twin (DISCOTWIN) Consortium”. Twin Research and Human Genetics. 18 (6): 762–771. doi:10.1017/thg.2015.83. ISSN 1832-4274. PMID 26678054.
- Herder C, Roden M (June 2011). “Genetics of type 2 diabetes: pathophysiologic and clinical relevance”. European Journal of Clinical Investigation. 41 (6): 679–92. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2362.2010.02454.x. PMID 21198561. S2CID 43548816.
- Fuchsberger, Christian; Flannick, Jason; Teslovich, Tanya M.; Mahajan, Anubha; Agarwala, Vineeta; Gaulton, Kyle J.; Ma, Clement; Fontanillas, Pierre; Moutsianas, Loukas; McCarthy, Davis J.; Rivas, Manuel A. (4 August 2016). “The genetic architecture of type 2 diabetes”. Nature. 536 (7614): 41–47. Bibcode:2016Natur.536…41F. doi:10.1038/nature18642. ISSN 1476-4687. PMC 5034897. PMID 27398621.
- “Monogenic Forms of Diabetes: Neonatal Diabetes Mellitus and Maturity-onset Diabetes of the Young”. National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse (NDIC). National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, NIH. March 2007. Archived from the original on 2008-07-04. Retrieved 2008-08-04.
- Funnell MM, Anderson RM (2008). “Influencing self-management: from compliance to collaboration”. In Feinglos MN, Bethel MA (eds.). Type 2 diabetes mellitus: an evidence-based approach to practical management. Contemporary endocrinology. Totowa, NJ: Humana Press. p. 462. ISBN 978-1-58829-794-5. OCLC 261324723.
Izzedine H, Launay-Vacher V, Deybach C, Bourry E, Barrou B, Deray G (November 2005). “Drug-induced diabetes mellitus”. Expert Opinion on Drug Safety. 4 (6): 1097–109. doi:10.1517/147403184.108.40.2067. PMID 16255667. S2CID 21532595.