U.S. Gov Spends Billions on Diabetes Research, But Scientists Already Know the Cure

Millions of people could shake Type 2 diabetes if they just lost some weight.



According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 29.1 million Americans—nearly a tenth of the U.S. population—have diabetes. The majority of these cases are Type 2 diabetes, formerly called "adult onset diabetes," a condition that can require daily insulin shots and eventually lead to blindness, stroke, limb amputation, and kidney failure. The federal government funds research on diabetes prevention and cures to the tune of more than one billion dollars a year. But we already have a cure for the diabetes: lose weight and eat better.

Scientists have been saying so for years. Now new research suggests, yet again, that millions of people could shake type 2 diabetes if they just lost some weight. The study, out of England's Newcastle University, was small, involving just 18 patients. But it builds on previous research suggesting that Type 2 diabetes can be "reversed," even in those who've had the diseae a long time.

In the new study, 18 obese patients with type 2 diabetes were given gastric band surgery, then put on a healthy and low-calorie diet (about 1,200 calories per day) for eight weeks. By the end of the study period, they had lost an average of about 31 pounds each, along with 0.6 grams of fat from their pancreas. The pancreas-fat loss is crucial, scientists say, noting that a control group of non-diabetic obese patients showed no pancreas-fat decrease when they lost similar amounts of weight. 

"This shows that the excess fat in the diabetic pancreas is specific to Type 2 diabetes and important in preventing insulin being made as normal," according to a Newcastle University press release. "When that excess fat is removed, insulin secretion increases to normal levels. In other words, they were diabetes free."  

"At present the only way we have to (lose pancreas fat specifically) is by calorie restriction by any means–whether by diet or an operation," said lead researcher Roy Taylor, director of Newcastle University's Magnetic Resonance Centre. 

Taylor presented his team's findings this week at the World Diabetes Congress in Vancouver, and the study was published online this week in the journal Diabetes Care. Taylor's team is now planning a larger study involving 200 people and a two-year study period. 

Type 2 diabetes is produced by high blood-sugar levels, which result from the pancreas failing to produce enough of the hormone insulin combined with insulin resistance, in which the body fails to respond to insulin normally. 

NEXT: The Answer: Stupid TSA Rules, Illegal Tiny Houses & Border Patrol Checkpoint Refusals

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Why can’t we surgically remove it the same way we do tummy tucks? I know the guys will just grow it back by over eating, but I don’t get why calorie restriction is the only way to get rid of it.

    1. Calorie restriction isn’t the only way to lose weight. Lowering the percent of your carbohydrates to total calories consumed has the same effect.

      1. Almost always because that will lower your total calories consumed. Sugar/carbs induce further eating.

    2. Because the cure isn’t to loose weight, it’s to loose fatty tissue from your pancreas. Tummy tucks aren’t that serious of a surgery, but I imagine trying to cut fat out of an internal organ is a pretty involved process, and probably not worth the risk since dieting can do the same thing.

    3. I heard about a study years ago that suggested the liposuction does provide many of the advantages of losing weight the old fashioned way. Not sure how the results have held up since.


  3. No one tell NutraSweet! His slashfic powers come from the diabetes!


      1. I don’t care about humanity! I care about demented horrific slashfic!

  4. Stop eating so much fucking sugar, you fat fucks.

    1. I’m always amazed that if you go into a 7-eleven in an “urban district” there’s almost no sugar-free beverage options, and a lot of overweight people buying big gulps. I am relatively certain that many people still think that soda doesn’t have any calories simply because it’s a drink, not something you eat. We could probably drop a lot of weight around the country just by a good information campaign letting people know there’s as much sugar and calories in a typical coke as there is in an ice cream cone or candy bar. Too many people don’t look at the nutritional information, you need to spell it out for them. I’m sure many of these people would never eat five candy bars in a day, but think nothing of drinking 5 cokes a day.

    2. Fuck off, prick. Tell that to the skinny people who have it. People act like cancer magically disappears when everyone stops smoking and diabetes ends when we are all at precisely the correct weight for our height according to the insurance company. My mother died of diabetes and wasn’t overweight a day in her life. She was a farmer’s wife, so she didn’t lack for exercise either. It ran in her family. Every. Single. Sibling. Had. It.

      This is a specific type of weight loss that they are referencing. Rapid. You get rapid weight loss with incredibly restricted calories and/or gastric bands. Read the study. It’s a follow up from a study that they did in 2011. “extreme diet of just 600 calories a day consisting of liquid diet drinks plus 200 calories of non-starchy vegetables” This is not something that people can do on their own. It’s also old news. Look at the publish date at the bottom:


      1. It sounds like your mother would have had type 1 diabetes, formerly known as insulin-dependent diabetes, which is not related to body fat. Type 2 diabetes, however, most commonly is related to obesity, and often can be resolved with dieting.

        1. No. She had Type 2. I took care of her at the end of her life, helplessly watched her suffer and grieved when she died. She wasn’t a fat fuck who needed to stop eating so much sugar. Her siblings all had type two as well.

      2. What part of this:

        Stop eating so much fucking sugar

        has any connection to this:

        diabetes ends when we are all at precisely the correct weight for our height according to the insurance company


        1. You forgot the “you fat fucks” part.

    3. Pancreas fat buildup causes all sorts of digestive issues, not just insulin problems. Certainly, some of those that suffer diabetes would be in this camp, but I’d need to see a lot better evidence than a study of 18 people to think that all sufferers do. In my own experience, I know multiple T2 diabetics who have lost weight and kept it off but still have diabetes and have to be treated their whole lives (some severely so). Losing weight helps, but the weight acts like a symptom for these people (e.g. if you get the flu and take acetominophen, you treated the fever but still have the flu.)

      If you read the literature, at least to me, diabetes comes off reeking of a genetic syndrome. Based on its incidence (sometimes entire families have it, sometimes only a member or two of the family has it) it makes me think of Huntington’s disease, which is a transcription-slide mutation with CAG amino acid repeating sequences. Once it’s established in a family, it’s very common for it to be passed to continuing generations – but it will randomly appear in other people, too, as the mutation enters (For lack of a better description) ‘syndrome length.’

  5. Quit othering SugarFree, ENB. You do NOT want him to start writing stories about you.

    1. I think he’s a type 1. Not sure if that matters.

      I kind of want him to write stories about her.

      1. As a fellow Type 1 I would say that it definitely matters. They’re pretty much different diseases that just have the same symptoms.

        1. You responded way too seriously to that.

  6. Millions of people could shake Type 2 diabetes if they just lost some weight.

    TRIGGER: Fat-shaming.

    1. Diabetic is beautiful!


        1. #Type2LivesContainMoreMatter

      2. I saw a few minutes of this show. It made me crazy. She has thinning hair, POCS (infertility), and possibly diabetes, but we’re supposed to celebrate her fat and fabulous life!

        Normalizing diabetes and early death is a good thing!! Body positive!

        1. I identify with her because I too have had a weave emergency, girl.

          1. Her weave is on her head, though.

            1. Don’t hair-shame Crusty just because his happy trail was getting a little thin.

              1. Damn your quick fingers.

            2. Bald jokes are not cool. It is a fashion statement! I SWEAR.

        2. Some of the comments on that video are dangerously stupid. “PCOS makes you fat!” Yes, weight gain can be a symptom but it also makes the condition worse and can even be the cause. Protecting someone’s feelings isn’t helping them when it comes at the expense of reaching a solution.

        3. I want to know WTF she’s eating, because she actually has a fairly active lifestyle. It’s gotta be like a coupla Big Mac Meals a day.

          1. If you just ate the Big Mac but skip the fries and coke, it’s actually fairly healthy. Hamburgers get a bad rap, it’s really the other stuff in the McD’s “meal” that’s so bad.

        4. PCOS is not infertility. It can make it very difficult to have children, but it’s not impossible. I have a good friend who has it, and while she is a whole lot less fat than that, it does make it difficult to control weight. Some people are just going to be fat.

          And haven’t I been hearing that being overweight (not morbidly obese) actually correlates to living longer?

          Still, I agree that it is not helpful to try to normalize being obese. There are a lot of people who are fat because of their own choices. It’s also none of my business.

          1. it does make it difficult to control weight. Some people are just going to be fat.

            Except that just because something is a symptom of a larger condition, doesn’t mean it should just be ignored. Especially when it exacerbates the health problem like obesity does with PCOS. Weight loss is one of the main treatments for PCOS, as difficult as it may be to achieve. Smoking is also difficult to quit when you suffer from chronic bronchitis, but we don’t worry about hurting smoker’s feelings by pointing out the connection.

            1. I’m not talking about anyone’s feelings. Of course people should be told those things. I was mostly responding to the comment about PCOS. My friend (and her mother who has it as well) does a good job of managing it, but will never be skinny and will always have whacked out hormones.

              And while being obese is obviously not good, being a little bit fat seems like not a bad thing. I say this as a naturally very thin person.

  7. The Government should make ALL foods be labeled so everyone, especially the Fat Fucks, would make doubleplusgood feeding decisions.

    1. The Fat Fucks don’t read the labels. That’s why they’re Fat Fucks. When I told my buddy’s chubby girlfriend that I only drank skim milk, and not much of that, she said, “You don’t need to drink skim milk”. My answer was, “Duh”.

  8. Millions of people could shake Type 2 diabetes if they just lost some weight.

    Everyone knows that it is the evul corporashuns’ fault, not their personal responsibility.

    1. So in other words….Shake It Off?

  9. Alternate title: Thin-Privileged, Fat-Shamer Elizabeth Nolan Brown Wants You to Lose Weight.

  10. Walmart sells 35oz tubs of dry-roasted peanuts for under five bucks on my area. Over thirteen hundred kcal per dollar, and only ~9 net carbs for a lunch-sized serving. I keep it in my car for meal replacement and snacks between work, class, and gym. Apropos of nothing, really, but I do think eliminating sugar and restricting carbs is the best method and cheap peanuts is a great deal.

    1. Shillin’ for big nut

  11. Millions of people could shake Type 2 diabetes if they just lost some weight

    Are you saying they could just shake it off?

    1. There is no problem a little T-Swizzle can’t solve.

    2. I hope that’s the “Shake Weight”.

  12. Hang on a sec ….

    The pancreas-fat loss is crucial, scientists say, noting that a control group of non-diabetic obese patients showed no pancreas-fat decrease when they lost similar amounts of weight.

    At present the only way we have to (lose pancreas fat specifically) is by calorie restriction by any means?whether by diet or an operation

    Those are somewhat at odds, or am I missing something?

    1. I think what he meant was the only way *diabetics* have to lose pancreas fat, since, yes, weight-loss doesn’t appear to make much difference for pancreas fat levels in non-diabetics

      1. You mean there’s something different about diabetics?!? Well I never …..

        1. Judging by our resident diabetic, the differences are… extensive.

          1. Who could have guessed that total moral bankruptcy was one of the side effects of an inability to properly metabolize glucose?

            1. (Raises hand)

              Of course, I’ve known NutraSweet for a long time. I’ve had time to see the evidence.

              1. My previous screenname is tagged in three entries on his blog of horrors, and i only got terror-laid (by Rachel Maddow) in one of them, so i’ve gotten by relatively unscathed. Still…

  13. Let’s just put our cards on the table. If you have the diabetes, you’re a drain on the system. Do you know how many times I accidentally ate something that was sugarless? Yeah, too many. I pin these on those of you diabetics forcing society to cater to you. I mean, come on.

    1. Sugary soft drinks make my teeth feel sticky.

      1. Are you sure it was the soda and not the other thing?

      2. They should have a law to put tab locks on cans of that sugar free stuff so that people like me don’t drink some by accident.

      3. Indeed, but NutraSweet is even worse. Thank god for the proliferation of Coke Zero and Pepsi Max.

      4. And non-nutritive sweeteners taste terrible.

        I’ll stick with seltzer or unsweetened tea or plain old water (when it’s not time for beer and whisky, that is).

    2. Would you like to start in on gluten-free, next?

      How about polyunsaturates?

      And those people who insist on wearing seatbelts so they can survive and continue to hog the road?


        1. My understanding is polyandry is the *true* way nature intended humans to live.

          1. and we would’ve gotten away with it too, if it weren’t for those meddlesome kids

        2. Yes, everyone should eat nothing but Chocolate Frosted Sugar Bombs.

      2. I’ll say one thing about gluten free. If you are going to do that, stop trying to make things that depend on gluten for their texture. If you aren’t actually allergic to gluten, then your problem is probably too much grain anyway.

  14. As the parent of a Type 1 daughter, I f-ing *hate* it that her disease has any association with fat turds who’re unable to stop themselves from eating whole tubs of lard.

    The situation’s got worse now that Type 2 (otherwise known as fat ass syndrome) has become the in-thing. “Oh, your kid has diabetes? You just need to cut her off from Twinkies!” Next person who gives me some variant of that gets a glucose meter shoved down their throat.

    Oh, and thanks Obama for that 3% medical device tax. It’s going to make my next $10,000 insulin pump purchase extra feel-good.


    1. fat turds who’re unable to stop themselves from eating whole tubs of lard.

      If they did that, they most likely wouldn’t have diabetes.

      1. Not true. C.f., http://blog.joslin.org/2011/09…..d-glucose/

        1. This is not a good article. It is based on flawed understanding of macro interactions. Inflammation is your primary mover in Type2 and a ketogenic diet will halt dead in its tracks inflammation.

      2. Eating fat does not make you fat. Jesus Christ I wish this fallacy would die.

        1. Eating fat does not make you fat. Jesus Christ I wish this fallacy would die.

          No it doesn’t, are you replying to me or to notJoe?

          1. Ah, I misread your comment.

        2. That was not what I was rebutting. Eating fat jacks with your body’s glucose control. My daughter uses a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) that gives us a real time (well, data points every 5 minutes) view of her blood glucose levels. If we don’t time the insulin doses juuust right for a fatty meal like mac n cheese, her BG can remain elevated for hours. That longer-term elevated glucose — in a person lucky enough to have a body that produces insulin — can cause insulin overproduction as a response. As I understand it — I really don’t give two sh*ts about Type 2 — insulin overproduction leads to insulin resistance.

          1. Type 1 is a different animal to be sure, but stuffing your face with lard is not going to make you a Type 2 diabetic unless you follow it up with a couple pounds of pasta every time.

            1. You’re right, I should have used a better example. How ’bout “stuffing their faces with potato chips and pork rinds?”

              1. Both of those are the satanic combination of high carb and high fat.
                high fat + high protein = ok,
                high fat by itself = best,
                low carb and nothing else = less ok,
                high carb and high protien or fat = VERY BAD!

              2. The potato chips, sure, but the pork rinds won’t do it either.

                1. Zero carbs in pork rinds.

                  1. Of course rinds are not…I read potato chip and interpreted cheetoh for pork rind somehow…my bad.

      3. *ding*

        I eat lots of fat… full salad dressings, dark chocolate, cashews, red meat, steak (fried in lard), and have no gut.

        But I also don’t drink sugary pop or juice, or eat doughnuts, bread, potatoes, and milk chocolate. I don’t even consume much fruit but mostly stick to lower-carb vegetables.

        My wife comes from a family of overweight individuals. She follows the same diet that I do – and surprise, surprise – is the only one who has managed to stay thin. She also had to add some 16:8 fasting to get down to her goals.

        btw, I’ve read some articles on Type 1 diabetes and low carb:

        1. I ate an entirely ketogenic diet to reach my goal weight 4 years ago.

          1. After I quit smoking cigarettes I became a big, fat, fatty-face. I started to exercise, which meant I slowly jogged and walked around a lake almost everyday while eating a lower carb, higher protein diet, and I lost 40lbs.

            The people that I know who are severely overweight do not even try anything like that.

            1. Nice.

              The people that I know who are severely overweight do not even try anything like that.

              Cause and effect, how does that work?

          2. I ate an entirely ketogenic diet to reach my goal weight 4 years ago.

            I get 85%+ of my calories from fat, the rest from protein with extremely low amounts of carbs (mainly berries) and have never been overweight. The rest of my family is the same, and none have health issues.

            1. +1 bowl of akutaq

        2. Correct answer.

          Contrary to popular belief, eating tubs of lard is one way to improve your health. Provided the rest of your diet isn’t garbage.

          1. What about discarded coffee grounds and old newspaper fried in lard?

        3. I would eat diabetes before I would eat dark chocolate.

          1. Wow, Watch out Nicole, Fisty is gaining ground on your title.

            I don’t even.

          2. You know who else didn’t like dark chocolate?

            1. David Duke?

        4. But I also don’t drink sugary pop or juice, or eat doughnuts, bread, potatoes, and milk chocolate. I don’t even consume much fruit but mostly stick to lower-carb vegetables.

          I guess the plus side is that your wrists are easier to slash and that your finger can fit in the trigger guard of the gun in your mouth. Because your life clearly isn’t worth living like that.

          1. The good news for him is trim, athletic people have more sex than fatties, so possibly he’s found another reason for living.

            1. I have never met a woman that would be worth giving up rice for.

              1. I don’t eat grass…I eat things that eat grass.

                Warty Stats:
                Squat – 285
                DL – 285

                1. Your squat is the same as your dead lift?

        5. You’ll have to pull the bread and potatoes out of my chubby Germanic fingers. OK, I’m a little overweight but not obese. Still, I cannot imagine a life without those things.

          1. it takes time an discipline, but if you are down to your target and not a Type2 nor a Metabolic Syndrome person, GL can come into play. Just eat a VERY small amount of those things. And do exercise afterwards and eat almonds.

          2. I do a lot of running, so I eat more bread and rice than most who follow lower carb diets, but you would be surprised how easy it is to not want to eat that sort of food. It’s gross.

            1. Just replace it with things you do like. I eat a fair amount of eggs, bacon, cheese, sea food.

              1. OK, I do love eggs, bacon, cheese, and fish – so there’s that.

          3. It’s really not that hard.

            But bread and potatoes are tasty.

          4. Bread would be the worst to give up. I’ve gotten really good at making just the kind of break I like.

        6. Mr. Humungus,

          A low carb diet wouldn’t sit too well with my daughter. We do watch the kinds of carbs she eats (e.g., no refined grains, no breakfast cereals except as special treats — Cheerios are the tool of Satan — only homemade whole wheat/oatmeal bread, whole fat milk, etc.).

          During summers we see the same nice BG graph as in the article, but as a result of increased activity (swimming, jogging, just playing). Gimme my carbs and I’ll exercise instead. (I’ve always eaten a high carb diet and I’m thin.)

        7. I eat whatever I feel like and I weigh the same as I did when I was 18. People used to tell me “just wait until you are in your 30s, you’ll have a big old gut too”. Nope.

  15. What dos this have to do with teh Whyte Slavereeez?

  16. What dos this have to do with teh Whyte Slavereeez?

  17. You’ll have to answer to the Coca-Cola Corporation.

  18. The study, out of England’s Newcastle University, was small, involving just 18 patients.

    I’m no Doctor (or Lawyer) but this seems really, really too small to get excited over any conclusions.

    1. Right. But it demonstrates a possibility, which in turn makes way for more and bigger studies.

  19. I’m no expert on diabetes research but this doesn’t match my own experience. In my 20’s through 40’s I bicycled a lot and ate poorly. The result was being overweight with decent heart/lung health. Even being overweight and eating crappy, I never even had a hint of blood glucose problems.

    At 49 I got tired of being fat so I lost 35 pounds (low carb). Then I parked the bike and started running. Running taught me that I must have done a lot coasting when biking because my cardio fitness improved dramatically.

    Now I’m 52 and for the first time ever my annual physical came back with high blood glucose and I’m told that I’m “pre-diabetic”. I asked what I should do and the morons said “lose weight and exercise”. I pointed out that I already lost 35 pounds, I run three times a week, and I regularly compete in 5Ks. They just said “oh”.

    While I believe that many Type II patients could be “cured” by simply losing weight, I don’t think it’s that simple for everyone. Of course none of this addresses Type I. Type I is very far from “cured”. If you believe that government should fund any disease research, Type I diabetes seems like a reasonable place to spend it.

  20. I generally enjoy the author of this article’s pieces but there is some flawed conclusions drawn here. First of all, the sourcing of the article is shoddy. It lacks back to a four year old article written by the same author, and to only one research study which was a pilot study that requires much further research before substantive,actionable results can be had. Sure, it’s definitely a great idea to lose weight if you have insulin-resistance diabetes. Also, to those claiming dietary carb/sugar intake is the culprit for this disease, it’s long been held that dietary fat intake is predicative of insulin resistance and not carbohydrate intake.


  21. Ms Brown. Please. 18 people is not a study. It has no scientific validity. I expect much much better from yourself and the writers at Reason. a better question is with so many Americans suffering from Diabetes why are insulin and supplies so damn expensive? $1.60 per test strip 4+ time a day when they are cranked out by the millions? Insulin made in Germany and shipped here in the thousand plus dollars a month cost? there is a story worthy of Reason magazine. not phony studies of the day. who do you think you are? Main Stream Media?

  22. All my life I did not think there is a diet for Diabetes until I found Venus Factor Diet Program

  23. Diabetes patients are facing a fatal problem when we talk about marriage. Lately it is discovered a solution for such problem using natural products.

  24. Many diabetics are very pessimistic about the healing of their disease, but whether it is true that diabetes can not be cured? The answer, is not be considered cured. Not surprisingly, we heard a lot of information that conveys how to prevent diabetes, Because of the diabetes appears, then diabetes becomes permanent and get review on http://www.diabetesdestroyerreviewx.com . Because it’s a case of diabetes if not to occur to prevent is better than cure.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.