Diabetes is a troublesome disorder that can cause havoc on the body. According to the International Diabetes Federation, approximately 463 million adults were living with diabetes in 2019 and by 2045 this number is set to rise to 700 million.
Furthermore, the proportion of people with type 2 diabetes is increasing in most countries. Now, a new study has found that "fat over-spills from the liver into the pancreas" may be what is responsible for triggering type 2 diabetes.
Too much fat in the body
The research followed a group of people who had type 2 diabetes but had lost weight and successfully reversed the condition. The researchers uncovered that type 2 diabetes is caused as a response to too much fat in the body.
“We saw that when a person accumulates too much fat, which should be stored under the skin, then it has to go elsewhere in the body. The amount that can be stored under the skin varies from person to person, indicating a ‘personal fat threshold’ above which fat can cause mischief," said in a statement Professor Roy Taylor, from the Newcastle University Institute of Translational and Clinical Research,
“When fat cannot be safely stored under the skin, it is then stored inside the liver and over-spills to the rest of the body including the pancreas. This ‘clogs up’ the pancreas, switching off the genes which direct how insulin should effectively be produced, and this causes Type 2 diabetes.”
A reversible condition
The study brings good news for type 2 diabetes sufferers as it indicates that the condition is reversible. In fact, previous Newcastle studies that found that type 2 diabetes can be reversed led to the large DiRECT trial.
This trial found that weight loss techniques combined with a low-calorie diet resulted in a remission of type 2 diabetes.
“This means we can now see type 2 diabetes as a simple condition where the individual has accumulated more fat than they can cope with," said Taylor.
“Importantly this means that through diet and persistence, patients are able to lose the fat and potentially reverse their diabetes. The sooner this is done after diagnosis, the more likely it is that remission can be achieved.”