He said: “It’s scary, if the number of people being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes continues as it is, the entire NHS budget will be spent on them by 2030.
Right now it’s 10 per cent of that budget.”
But he says changes to the diet can prevent and even reverse the condition.
The NHS is already spending £1.5million every hour – or £25,000 a minute – on caring for almost four million diabetics.
It’s estimated that in addition to them, another one in three adults already has raised blood sugar levels that can lead to diabetes, though they don’t yet know it.
In addition, hundreds of children, some as young as nine, are now being treated for Type 2 diabetes triggered by overeating.
The Diabetes UK charity says someone is diagnosed with the condition every two minutes.
The illness strikes when insulin in the pancreas does not work properly or the pancreas fails to make enough insulin.
The Diabetes UK charity says someone is diagnosed with the condition every two minutes
This causes a rise in glucose levels in the blood which, if untreated, leads to heart attacks, strokes, kidney disease, liver failure, blindness and damage to nerve endings in the feet that, in the most severe cases, mean amputations.
Worldwide, the number of people with Type 2 diabetes has quadrupled over 35 years to more than 422 million. It’s expected to be 642 million by 2040.
Until recently anyone diagnosed was told that it was a lifelong condition with potentially devastating consequences.
But Professor Taylor, of Newcastle University, says the illness can be reversed if sufferers simply go on a radical lowcalorie diet for a few weeks.
Back in 2006 he had been sitting in his office on Tyneside reading a research paper that revealed almost three-quarters of grossly overweight patients with Type 2 diabetes who underwent surgery to have a gastric band fitted – drastically reducing the amount of food they could eat – had normalised their blood sugar levels.
The NHS is already spending £1.5million every hour – or £25,000 a minute
Of the 14 patients, 11 completed the diet and I was amazed by the results.
“It was my magic moment and I thought, what if we can achieve the same result without the surgery, just a diet?” said Prof Taylor, who has spent more than 40 years researching the causes of the condition.
In 2008 he set up a clinical trial called Counterpoint in which 14 patients with Type 2 diabetes began a two-month radical weight-loss programme, living on just 600 calories a day from meal replacement shakes and another 200 calories from vegetables.
“Of the 14 patients, 11 completed the diet and I was amazed by the results,” said Prof Taylor, 66.
“It only took people seven days to get their blood sugar levels back to normal. When we got the first results back I went home that night but couldn’t sleep. I realised that this might be monumental.”
He found that Type 2 diabetics have an excess of fat in their liver and pancreas, and that by losing just one gram of fat from their pancreas they can reboot their insulin production and blood sugar levels, reversing the diabetes. But to lose that one gram, a patient typically needs to shed up to two-and-a-half stone in body weight.
However, many fellow medics were sceptical of Prof Taylor’s findings. “I soon realised the size of the battle I faced to change people’s beliefs in the health profession,” he said.
“Medicine needs to be intensely conservative. It needs to be, to make sure any development has been fully evaluated, but that can create an overly cautious approach. So you need hard evidence to change people’s views.
“My hard evidence was presented in research papers in 2011 and then again in 2013, and then in 2016 we proved that people who underwent a radical weight-loss diet can stay non-diabetic.”
Prof Taylor still faced a reluctance from many to accept his findings until he teamed up with another expert, Mike Lean, Professor of Human Nutrition at Glasgow University.
In a medical trial last year called DiRECT, funded by the Diabetes UK charity, the pair persuaded almost 300 Type 2 diabetics living on Tyneside and in Scotland, aged between 20 and 65, to live on an 800 calorie a day diet, eating only meal replacement shakes for three months before gradually being re-introduced to solid food.
Professor Roy Taylor, the world’s leading expert on curing Type 2 Diabetes
The results were astonishing, with 46 per cent of the participants achieving remission to a non-diabetic state, free from the symptoms and risks of the condition.
Nine out of 10 of those who lost the most weight in the study, two-and-a-half stone or more, put their diabetes into remission.
When news of the results broke, Prof Taylor was bombarded with messages from diabetics across Britain and around the world saying that their doctors were still telling them nothing could rid them of the condition.
He has since been on a world tour to present his findings to experts as far afield as Colombia, France and Switzerland. He was in Denmark last week and will be in Dusseldorf, Germany, tomorrow.
And only now is the medical community prepared to accept that he is right.
“At a diabetes conference in London earlier this year I saw Simon Stevens, the chief executive of the NHS, waving a copy of my latest research paper about and I realised he was saying that it was an exciting breakthrough,” said Prof Taylor.
“I’ve banged the drum over the years and gradually more and more people are coming on board. But it’s only this year that I’ve started to feel it’s game, set and match, and that I’ve proved we can reverse Type 2 diabetes.”
The big losers from Prof Taylor’s work should be the global drug companies making millions from the pills diabetics currently rely on but he believes they won’t be that concerned just yet.
“They know this research will take away a slice of their market but they think they can still afford it because the number of people being diagnosed is rising every day and so far I’ve shown we can reverse the condition in just under half of them,” he said. “The rest will still need medication.”
A publisher has handed him a fivefigure advance for a book on the subject – an advance Prof Taylor will be giving to the Diabetes UK charity.
“I want to debunk many of the myths about food,” he said.
“The idea that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, for example. The research that came up with that was paid for by the breakfast cereal companies.
Blood glucose test device for diabetics
“It’s false because the time of day you eat isn’t important. What matters is when people want to eat, so forcing down breakfast when you don’t want it means you’re just consuming extra calories.”
Prof Taylor then targets the “myths” about super foods such as blueberries which we are supposed to eat to stay healthy.
He said: “That research, in fact, just showed that more affluent people in the richer parts of our towns and cities lived longer and that they happened to eat blueberries. People may have other lifestyle issues that shorten their lives, the corner shop doesn’t sell blueberries, like in the leafy suburbs.”
Summing up the impact of his research Prof Taylor said that having proved Type 2 diabetes can be reversed by a radical weight-loss diet, those diagnosed with the condition now have a stark choice.
“You can decide that you want your doctor to supervise your ill-health, or you can get back to full health.”