227. Letter to the Prime Minister on Diabetes

Dear Mrs May,

Congratulations on your appointment. I wish you every success in your new role, which will undoubtedly be very challenging.

Diabetes policy

I am taking the liberty of writing this letter because of my serious concerns about the national policy on diabetes. I understand from articles in the media that you suffer from Type 1 Diabetes (T1D). From a public health perspective, Type 2 Diabetes (T2D) affects many more people. Currently, expenditure by the NHS on diabetes is about £10 Billion per annum. In addition, there are the costs to the economy, not mention the scale of human suffering. The incidence has approximately doubled in the past 15 years and it is expected that this rate of increase will be maintained for the foreseeable future. Current policies are simply not working.

Understanding diabetes

T1D is caused by the failure of the pancreas to produce sufficient insulin, which is required to control the level of glucose in the blood, by directing it to the liver and the other vital organs where it is utilised. Before the discovery of insulin, there was no effective treatment for T1D.

T2D is different because it is caused by the persistent consumption of diets which have a high content of sugar and carbohydrates. In order to cope with this, the pancreas has to increase the production of the natural insulin. This excess insulin causes a reaction in many organs which reduces the sensitivity to insulin (referred to as “insulin resistance”). As a consequence the pancreas has to produce even more insulin so that it can control the blood sugar. After several years, the inevitable result is catastrophic failure of the pancreas and at this point, the blood glucose increases and if it is being monitored, T2D will be diagnosed.

Why current policies are not working

According to the official Diabetes Prevention Programme, the definition of T2D is a:

“condition of insufficient insulin production”.

So it follows from this that much of the emphasis for treatment is to apply insulin therapy. It should be obvious that this will not work because the basic problem has been caused by the natural production of excessive a mounts of insulin. Applying even more will only make things worse by increasing insulin resistance.

The key to success in controlling T2D

The most effective way to cope with T2D is to eliminate the primary cause, which is excessive intake of sugar and carbohydrates. This has been successfully demonstrated by hundreds of individuals, whose case studies have been published on the internet. Here is one example from Ian Day who sent me the following information:

“I was diagnosed Type 2 Diabetes in 2,000 at age 61. I was advised to eat the NHS “healthy diet” with plenty of starchy carbs, low fat, sugar and salt. I was also advised that however well I complied, diabetes was progressive and would lead to problems with eyes, kidneys and possible stroke and heart disease.

It’s inevitable – the nature of the disease.

Sure enough the disease progressed – reduced kidney function, beginning of retina bleeds, chronic tiredness and severe crippling peripheral neuropathy.

In May 2008, with advice from Fergus on the www.diabetes.co.uk/forum I gave up all the obvious carbs.

My blood sugars immediately improved and within 3 months I was out of pain and able to play tennis again.

Now, after 7 1/2 years on a low carb, high fat diet I am well, with NO diabetes complications.

I would not DARE revert to the NHS/Diabetes UK “healthy” diet. It’s poison.”

I can assure you that this is by no means an isolated case. There are literally hundreds if not thousands who have had a very similar experience. Some examples can be found on this website (1). The reaction of many individuals to the conventional advice can be gauged from these links (2, 3, 4).

Increasing consumption of carbohydrates makes no sense

As Ian Day points out, the standard NHS advice is to INCREASE the consumption of carbohydrates. This is absolutely unbelievable. There is no doubt that this official approach is one critical factor which is contributing to our current problems.

The outstanding work of Dr. Unwin

There is comprehensive research which confirms these personal case histories (5). However the work of Dr. David Unwin and his colleagues in their General Practice in Southport is particularly impressive. They have successfully treated diabetics with a diet which is low in carbohydrates (6). In a study with over 60 people the average weight loss was 9kg, the blood sugars were normalised and the fat in the liver was reduced substantially.

The case history of one patient is particularly impressive.

This was a 55-year old woman who started out with an HbA1c of 84 mmol/mol (9.8%) which is effectively out of control and a GGT of 103 iu/L which showed that the liver function was deranged. Essentially this is a bad case of T2D. She had been prescribed metformin. After 3 months on the low carbohydrate diet the GGT was down to 12 iu/L (a reduction of almost 90 %!!) and an ultrasound scan confirmed the liver was functioning normally. She also lost 7.9 kg. In the longer term she has lost a bit more weight, the liver function is fine, her HbA1c is just about OK but she has come off the metformin. She has lost 17 cm from her waist and says she feels “10 years younger”.

(Note HbA1c is a measure of blood sugar and GGT is a marker for Non Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease).

Dr. Unwin is clearly being highly successful in improving the health of his patients. The other significant result of this work is that expenditure on drugs in the practice has been reduced by over £40,000 per annum.



How to make progress

The basic problem is that the official guidelines on Healthy Eating are fundamentally flawed. The emphasis on REDUCING FAT and INCREASING CARBOHYDRATES is wrong. Overcoming T2D is achieved by doing the exact opposite.

A so-called healthy diet, which has a high content of carbohydrates is also unsuitable for those with T1D. This is because the higher the intake of carbohydrates, the more insulin has to be used. As this causes insulin resistance to develop, it means that many who are diagnosed with T1D eventually also develop T2D. It follows that those with T1D, should consume a diet which has a low content of carbohydrates so that the amount of insulin which has to be used is kept to the absolute minimum.

The outstanding example of this is Dr. Richard Bernstein. Originally diagnosed with T1D when he was 12 years old, he experienced very poor quality life for 20 years because he complied with the official advice to consume a diet with a high content of carbohydrates. As he had trained as an engineer, he applied his skills to study the disease and devised a series of procedures which enabled him to reduce the amount of insulin required, including a diet which was very low in carbohydrates. He improved the quality of his life enormously and in order to disseminate his knowledge more widely he re-trained as a medical doctor. To-day he is in his eighties and still practicing. His book “Dr. Bernstein’s Diabetes Solution: The Complete Guide to Achieving Normal Blood Sugars” should be essential reading for all those with T1D (and T2D) (7).

Time for a re-think

I have made my views known to the Government on previous occasions only to be given the brush-off. Ministers have not even had the courtesy to respond to the case I have presented. The blunt truth is that for any progress to be made the government advisers will have to admit that current policies are not working, which means that their input has been wrong. It really is time to make a complete re-evaluation of these policies on diabetes and related issues. New and different advisers should be asked to provide new and different perspectives. In South Africa, Professor Tim Noakes has been instrumental in advocating a diet which is low in carbohydrates, which is having a big impact in the country. There are many others who are listed on this website (8). Finally, I must emphasise the vital importance of the work of Dr. David Unwin. An approach which improves health and reduces costs has enormous policy implications. At the very least this should be examined not only by the DoH but also by the Treasury. Any strategy, which is effective and does not increase costs deserves to be carefully scrutinized.

I am convinced there is a genuine opportunity for a policy initiative that would be highly successful and welcomed all over the world. On the other hand, current policies are failing badly. They will have to be changed eventually, so surely it would be preferable for this to happen sooner rather than later?

Yours sincerely

Verner Wheelock


  1. http://www.lowcarbdiabetic.co.uk/My%20Friends%20Stories.htm
  2. http://healthinsightuk.org/2015/09/29/time-for-diabetes-uk-to-unplug-ears-and-respond-to-chorus-of-disapproval-demanding-u-turn/ …
  3. https://www.facebook.com/AmericanDiabetesAssociation/posts/10153140618374033 … …
  4. http://www.bmj.com/content/351/bmj.h4023/rapid-responses
  5. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0899900714003323
  6. D Unwin et al (2015) http://www.diabesityinpractice.co.uk/media/content/_master/4311/files/pdf/dip4-3-102-8.pdf
  7. R K Bernstein (2011) “ Dr. Bernstein’s Diabetes Solution: The Complete Guide to Achieving Normal Blood Sugars” Little Brown New York ISBN 978-0316-18269-0
  8. http://foodmed.net/gd-home/
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