TNO: Potential of intermittent fasting as intervention for type 2 diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is a growing problem worldwide. In the Netherlands alone over 900.000 people suffer from it. That is more than twice as many as 15 years ago. Diabetes can lead to many complications such as cardiovascular disease, nerve damage, kidney damage, loss of vision, amputations, and may even increase a patient’s risk of getting Alzheimer’s disease. The disease puts an increasing burden on society, and finding a solution to the diabetes epidemic would be fantastic.

Today, treatment methods are based on medication. Unfortunately, these medications only target the symptoms and don’t solve the underlying problem. Type 2 diabetes is a disease that is caused primarily by unhealthy lifestyles, and research has shown that with a lifestyle intervention diabetes can actually be reversed. TNO, a Dutch nonprofit organisation, has developed the “Lifestyle as a Medicine” program as a first step to curing diabetes. They do this in cooperation with the Leiden University Medical Center (LUMC).

One potential lifestyle intervention is intermittent fasting; an eating pattern where users regularly go through periods of fasting (non-eating). On behalf of TNO, it is our task to examine the potential of intermittent fasting as a treatment method for type 2 diabetes. We are to find out, among other things, whether intermittent fasting is an effective treatment, whether it’s safe, how  hard it is to fast, what sort of support to offer patients, and if doctors are willing to apply it.