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GP’s online low-carb model saw ‘40% of diabetes patients able to cut medicines’



Two in five patients taking at least one drug to lower their blood glucose were able to cut down their medication after following a low-carbohydrate program for type 2 diabetes, a study has claimed.

The research, published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, included 1,000 patients who used the self-management course, of which 708 reported outcomes at 12 months.

The low-carb program online platform gave participants access to modules – taught through videos, written content, or podcasts – with a new one available each week over the course of 10 weeks.

These were designed to help patients gradually reduce their total carbohydrate intake to less than 130g per day.

The program also allowed participants to submit self-monitoring data on blood glucose levels, blood pressure, mood, sleep, food intake, and body weight, as well as notifying them when a new module became available and giving them weekly automated email feedback.

Nearly 700 of the patients completed at least 40% of the online lessons, and over 500 completed all lessons in the program.

After one year, the researchers found that 26% (195) of the participants who started with blood glucose levels at or above the type 2 diabetes threshold of 6.5%, reduced it to below the threshold while taking no glucose-lowering medications or just metformin.

And 40% (289) of the participants who were taking at least one hypoglycemic medication at baseline reduced one or more of these medications.

The study also saw 464 patients lose at least 5% of their body weight.

The researchers said that while the results of the trial should be interpreted cautiously, due to the study design, they still show noteworthy changes.

They said: ‘When adults with type 2 diabetes participate in the low-carb program, and especially when they finish all 10 modules of the program, they report significantly reduced HbA1C, weight loss, and reduced medications.’

Study author and medical advisor for the low-carb program Dr David Unwin, a practising GP in Southport, said: ‘The fact that over 370,000 people round the world have signed up for our online program shows how much interest there is in this approach.

‘Then to be able to publish data like this gives me hope that we may have a powerful and yet affordable weapon in the fight against type 2 diabetes.’

Last month, the RCGP launched a new online course for GPs, informing them of the ‘transformative’ benefits of a lower carbohydrate diet for type two diabetes patients.