January 2024

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Health Capsule

Intermittent Fasting and Type 2 Diabetes

Around 1 in 10 Americans live with type 2 diabetes. In this disease, levels of blood glucose, or blood sugar, stay too high for too long. Diabetes can lead to serious health issues.

Weight loss is often recommended for those with excess weight and type 2 diabetes. Reducing calorie intake is a common weight-loss strategy. But many people find it hard to cut back on calories.

An NIH-funded research team tested a different strategy. It’s called time-restricted eating, or intermittent fasting. With this approach, people eat only during a certain time period each day. During that time, they can eat anything they want.

The researchers recruited 75 people with obesity and type 2 diabetes. Participants were assigned to one of three diet groups. One group tried intermittent fasting. They ate only between noon and 8 p.m. Another group was asked to reduce their calorie intake by 25%. A third group had no dietary changes.

After six months, people in the fasting group had lost an average of 3.6% of their body weight. In comparison, people in the reduced-calorie group did not lose much weight. Both groups had similarly healthy decreases in blood glucose levels.

“Our study shows that time-restricted eating might be an effective alternative to traditional dieting for people who can’t do the traditional diet or are burned out on it,” says Dr. Krista Varady of the University of Illinois Chicago. For safety, people with diabetes who want to try intermittent fasting should talk to their doctor first.