Benefits Of Weight Loss For Diabetes


Intentional weight loss in diabetic patients is known to yield positive results in the control of Type 2 Diabetes which is termed diabetes remission. Statistics from Diabetes UK show that about 60% of Type 1 diabetics individuals and 85% of people with Type 2 diabetes are overweight.1 A reduction in weight for diabetic patients diminishes the risk of grave diabetes complications such as stroke, eye problems, kidney disease, heart disease, and amputation.1 A crucial lead to the escalating increase in the diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes across nations is the widespread overweight and obesity in these nations. Risks associated with type 2 diabetes rise drastically as the body mass index elevates beyond 25 kg/m2. It is estimated that every kilogram that is lost due to a positive health attitude in people living with diabetes, results in a relative decline of diabetes risk by 16%.2 

There is an estimated statistic that about 80% to 90% of individuals with diabetes are either overweight or obese with the physiological and metabolic risks linked with type 2 diabetes which makes the loss of weight an effective measure in the remission of type 2 diabetes.2 People who are at a higher risk of having type 2 diabetes could reduce their likelihood of the disease through a 5% to 10% moderate weight loss which can as well boost metabolic and glycaemic control in people already living with diabetes.2

It is well known that keeping to a weight control regimen and losing weight with diabetes is often cumbersome for people living with diabetes. However, seeking advice from a healthcare professional is a good way to start a weight loss journey with diabetes.1 This article explores the benefits of losing weight while living with diabetes.

Benefits of weight loss for diabetes

Losing weight while living with the medical diagnosis of diabetes is profitable as it relieves the body of numerous complications and prolongs its life span. An essential result of weight loss in diabetes is diabetes remission which is a reality for some diabetic individuals.

Weight loss from bariatric surgery or a dwindle in calorie intake could result in type 2 diabetes remission as shown in some studies. Elevated risks of diabetes complications are mostly seen in poor glycaemic control of some people living with diabetes. This glycaemic control is tracked by quantifying the blood sugar and the glycemia blood markers known as Haemoglobin A1C which indicates the mean blood sugar across the past two to three months.3 Diabetes remission is defined as the reversal of the condition to a nondiabetic range concerning the blood glucose markers and blood glucose levels, in which the range remained this way for at least 6 months without the consumption of any anti-glycaemic medications.3

It is essential for people living with type 2 diabetes and healthcare professionals to know that notable loss of weight from a medical procedure or a change in lifestyles such as exercise and diet, could lead to a consistent drop in blood sugar to the extent that is referred to as the non-diabetic range where this remission can lessen or hinder the occurrence of diabetes complications in the future.3

In diabetes remission, the word ‘remission’ is made use of instead of ‘cure’ because a relapse in lifestyle intervention with the consumption of excess calories and not exercising could lead to weight gain resulting in the blood sugar levels being in the range that is linked with a diabetes diagnosis. In such cases, with weight gain, the individual may require diabetes medications and/or insulin to control their blood glucose.3

Type 2 diabetes is noted as a progressive disorder and when people with the condition lose a notable weight and work on other related factors, remission can be achieved. Weight loss has been identified as an essential factor in achieving type 2 diabetes remission. There are two effective techniques have been implicated in the weight loss induction process. These two techniques are bariatric surgery and lifestyle intervention for the restriction of daily calorie intake and physical exercise for the loss of weight.3

The manner the digestive system works is impacted by bariatric surgery which has benefits for people living with type 2 diabetes by making you feel full easily and consuming less food in the process. The amount of bile acids produced by the body is increased, making the body more receptive to insulin, reducing insulin resistance, and improving blood glucose levels. Your gut hormones are also affected which impacts insulin production in the body. A study revealed that about 30.4% of the people that underwent weight loss surgery had type 2 diabetes remission for over 15 years.4

There are different types of bariatric surgery which include sleeve gastrectomy, gastric bypass, and gastric band. In sleeve gastrectomy, part of the stomach is removed while in gastric bypass, the digestive system is re-channeled to bypass the stomach other than the top smaller pouch. In gastric band surgery, a band is attached around the upper region of the stomach so that you can only eat a smaller amount of food to feel full.4

Research concentrates not only on body fat but also the location of this body fat which is referred to as ‘ectopic fat’, that is, the fat present in the liver and pancreas which impacts the normal functioning of the body. This research reveals that there may be an improvement in pancreatic function, enhanced insulin production, and remission of type 2 diabetes. The Diabetes Remission Clinical Trial (DiRECT), carried out in primary care practices in the UK explored the rate of type 2 diabetes remission in individuals that lost weight following a low-calorie diet with persistent weight loss over a long period. DiRECT discovered the existence of a tangible rate of diabetes remission among people who lost a significant amount of weight (greater than 10 kg) and sustained this for over 12 to 24 months. A low-calorie diet consists of about 800 to 1,200 calories per day. This is the replacement of your diet with other foods such as soups and shakes over a short period or you would be required to be on smaller portions of normal food.5 You would be placed on this new diet plan over 12 weeks before being reintroduced to your previous healthy diet again. It is worthy of note that this diet plan is not suitable for everyone which is the reason a piece of medical advice is needed before commencing the diet plan.5

During physical exercise, the contraction of the muscle cells takes in glucose into these cells despite the absence of insulin. After a workout, the reduction in blood glucose levels could extend till the elapse of 24 hours.6 Physical exercise strategy promotes insulin sensitivity and enhances weight loss. This strategy includes aerobic exercise, resistance exercise, stretching exercise, balance training, and Tai Chi which reduce cardiovascular risks, increase muscle mass, improve flexibility, reduce fall risks, and lessen diabetes effects on the nervous system, respectively.6


Can diabetes cause weight loss?

Diabetes can cause weight loss as insufficient insulin to regulate blood glucose levels causes the breakdown of body fats and muscles for energy.

Unexplained weight loss is the decline in body weight that occurred without the intention of losing weight either through dieting or exercising. This is referred to as a warning sign for diabetes.7

A significant unexplained weight loss of about 4.5 kg or more or over 5% of your body weight may be an indication of an underlying medical condition.7

This unexplained weight loss is often observed in people before the diagnosis of type 1 diagnosis, but it can also be seen in people with type 2 diabetes.7

If you have unintentional weight loss of more than 5% of your body weight within 6 to 12 months or less than that, it is advised that you see your doctor who can identify the cause of your weight loss such as undiagnosed diabetes, and the best treatment pathway.7

How to safely lose weight with diabetes?

To lose weight safely and successfully with diabetes mellitus, you will need to work with a registered dietician who has specialization in diabetes care and management for the creation and achievement of realistic goals which involve the development of a diet plan that will fit into your schedule.8 Also, sustaining this new lifestyle is key as keeping off lost weight is the major challenge. Physical activity is identified as a good strategy that will hinder the regain of your lost weight. You should pay more attention to losing weight around your waist which grants you more energy and reduces your risks of cardiovascular diseases.


Diabetes mellitus, a condition associated with poor glucose control, insulin insufficiency, and resistance can be reverted through an intentional weight loss strategy, especially in type 2 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes may result in unintentional weight loss which is usually an indication of the possibility of the condition. Weight management is essential in both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. The possibility of diabetes remission exists if you can sustain your target blood glucose levels and blood glucose markers over a longer period. You may revert to diabetes when you gain weight again. The weight loss strategy for weight loss while living with diabetes involves two key factors which are lifestyle interventions via healthy dieting and physical activity for weight loss in diabetes and weight loss surgery. Nutritional advice from a trained dietician and discipline are essential for the achievement of sustained weight loss in diabetes that could lead to persistent diabetes remission.


  1. Weight loss and diabetes [Internet]. Diabetes UK. [cited 2022 Dec 19]. Available from: 
  2. Lau DCW, Teoh H. Benefits of modest weight loss on the management of type 2 diabetes mellitus. Can J Diabetes. 2013 Apr;37(2):128–34. Available from:   
  3. Achieving type 2 diabetes remission through weight loss | blog | niddk [Internet]. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. 2020 [cited 2023 Feb 25]. Available from: 
  4. Weight loss surgery for type 2 diabetes [Internet]. Diabetes UK. [cited 2022 Dec 22]. Available from: 
  5. Low-calorie diets [Internet]. Diabetes UK. [cited 2022 Dec 22]. Available from: 
  6. Physical exercise for type 2 diabetes: Benefits and types [Internet]. 2021 [cited 2022 Dec 22]. Available from: 
  7. Hardy K. Unexplained weight loss [Internet]. Diabetes. 2019 [cited 2023 Feb 25]. Available from:  
  8. Type 2 diabetes: tips to lose weight successfully [Internet]. 2018 [cited 2023 Feb 25]. Available from: 
This content is purely informational and isn’t medical guidance. It shouldn’t replace professional medical counsel. Always consult your physician regarding treatment risks and benefits. See our editorial standards for more details.

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Sandra Fidelis

Bachelor’s (Honours) Degree, Nursing Science, Nnamdi Azikiwe University

Sandra Fidelis is a registered nurse, certified health writer and public health researcher.
She has a wide range of experience in the care of diabetic patients, cancer patients, acutely ill patients, elderly care, clients with long-term conditions, palliative care, and public health care across various health systems with a bachelor’s degree in Nursing Science and continuing education in Public Health.
She brings her medical background to bear in her health content writing with the capacity of creating a layman’s impression of health articles and health content search engine optimization.

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