Adults with type 2 diabetes who are overweight or obese can improve their glycaemic control and serum triacylglycerol concentrations by reducing their carbohydrate intake for up to six months, according to report by a joint working group.
The report by the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition and Diabetes UK identified beneficial effects from a lower carbohydrate diet, such as an improvement in blood sugar management.
However, it is unclear whether these benefits can be exclusively attributed to weight loss; individuals on low carbohydrate diets (37 per cent of total food intake or less) lost more weight than those on higher carbohydrate diets (50 per cent or more), but only for the first three months.
The report stressed that because the study did not report outcomes between six and 12 months it was not certain that the benefits are maintained beyond six months.
It did suggest that lower carbohydrate diets could allow people to reduce their diabetes medication but cautioned that “interpretation is complicated by inconsistencies in reporting and measurement of changes in medication use".
Douglas Twenefour, co-chair of the joint working group and deputy head of care of Diabetes UK, said health professionals “should support any evidence-based dietary approach that helps achieve long-term weight reduction,” including lower carbohydrate diets.
“It is vital that people get the support of their healthcare team, so that any impact on diabetes management or medications can be closely monitored,” he said.
Dr Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist at Public Health England who commissioned the study, said it was unclear if lower carbohydrate diets are “effective in the longer term” and if they would benefit all adults with type 2 diabetes as well as the overweight and obese.
“Adults living with type 2 diabetes choosing a lower carbohydrate diet should aim to include wholegrain or higher fibre foods, a variety of fruits and vegetables and limit saturated fats,” she added.