Acceptability of a very-low-energy diet in Type 2 diabetes: patient experiences and behaviour regulation

Diabet Med. 2017 Nov;34(11):1554-1567. doi: 10.1111/dme.13426. Epub 2017 Aug 15.


Aims: To evaluate the acceptability of an 8-week very-low-energy diet for remission of Type 2 diabetes, and to identify barriers and facilitators of adherence and behaviour-regulation strategies used by participants in the Counterbalance study.

Methods: Eighteen of 30 participants in the Counterbalance study (ISRCTN88634530) took part in semi-structured interviews. Of these, 15 participants were interviewed before and after the 8-week very-low-energy diet intervention. Thematic analysis was used to analyse the narratives.

Results: The prospect of diabetes remission, considerable weight loss, and long-term health improvement provided participants with substantial initial motivation. This motivation was sustained through the experience of rapid weight loss, improvements in blood glucose levels, social support and increased physical and psychological well-being. Overall, adherence to the very-low-energy diet for 8 weeks was perceived as much easier than anticipated, but required personal effort. Participants addressed challenges by removing food from the environment, planning, avoidance of tempting situations or places, and self-distraction. Weight loss and improvements in blood glucose levels lead to a sense of achievement and improvements in physical and psychological wellbeing.

Conclusions: Dietary treatment for reversal of Type 2 diabetes is acceptable and feasible in motivated participants, and the process is perceived as highly gratifying. Research outside of controlled trial settings is needed to gauge the generalisability of these findings.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Caloric Restriction / methods
  • Caloric Restriction / psychology*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / diet therapy*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / psychology
  • Diet, Reducing / psychology*
  • Female
  • Health Behavior / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motivation
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care* / psychology
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care* / statistics & numerical data
  • Perception
  • Self-Control / psychology*
  • Weight Loss / physiology