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Type 2 diabetes remission can happen naturally in 1 in 20


Duration, definition of diabetes remission

Dr. Captieux noted that the new international consensus definition of type 2 diabetes remission – which specifies a minimum 3-month duration of glycemic control to qualify as remission – means that people with diabetes “may frequently oscillate” between remission and active disease.

This makes it important to better define the effect of duration of diabetes remission regarding various diabetes complications.

Another issue raised by the new findings is the importance of distinguishing people who lose weight because of a healthier diet and increased activity from those who lose weight because of chronic illness or frailty that’s followed by long-term adverse outcomes.

If these two populations are not distinguished in an observational cohort study – such as the one run by Dr. Captieux and her associates – then the people with chronic illness might appear to have worse outcomes following diabetes remission.

Dr. Captieux and her coauthors used data collected in the Scottish Care Information–Diabetes registry, which includes almost all people diagnosed with diabetes in Scotland. They focused on people with diabetes who had first been diagnosed with diabetes during 2004-2018, who were at least 30 years old at the time of their initial diagnosis, and who had received care in the national health system during 2019.

This yielded a study cohort of 162,316 people, of whom 7,710 (4.8%) were identified by the researchers as being in remission in 2019.

Patients in remission were defined as those whose hemoglobin A1c level was less than 6.5% at their index reading in 2019 and whose A1c level could be documented as being lower than 6.5% for at least 1 year prior to the 2019 measurement.

In a primary logistic regression analysis, the authors identified five variables that were significantly linked with remission: age of at least 65 years (the association was even stronger for age older than 75 years), a lower A1c level at the time of initial diabetes diagnosis, weight loss, prior bariatric surgery, and no prior treatment with a glucose-lowering therapy.

The strongest association was with having had no prior treatment with a glucose-lowering therapy in 2019. People who met this criterion were nearly 15 times more likely to be in remission in 2019, compared with those who had received at least one of these agents.

The study received no commercial funding. Dr. Captieux and Dr. Lawton have disclosed no relevant financial relationships.

A version of this article first appeared on


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