Auteur - Dr David Unwin

A beacon of hope in a dark world

I am an oldish (62) GP who has looked after my local population of about 9,000 people North of Liverpool since 1986. A short while ago I was so excited to meet my hundredth patient to accomplish drug-free remission of her Type 2 diabetes. That is a none diabetic HbA1c and off medication for diabetes. A lady who only a few months ago thought her diabetes was a chronic, deteriorating condition is medication free with a normal blood sugar and rightly so proud of her achievement! A beacon of hope in a very dark world.

Dr David Unwin is één van de sprekers tijdens het jubileum congres van Vereniging Arts en Leefstijl, '10 jaar leefstijl, ja natuurlijk!'.

Another pandemic

When I started in here as a young GP [huisarts, red] 35 years ago there were just 57 people with diabetes in our practice, it was quite a rare illness, as was the obesity it is so often associated with. Also, it affected older people. This is important as type 2 diabetes does its damage via raised blood sugar as a function of time. So older people have less time for damage to accrue. By 2012 diabetes was no longer rare, the practice had suffered an EIGHT FOLD increase to 472 cases! A situation made worse because the individuals were decades younger. The youngest case I have seen is just ten years old! As part of this, amputations, heart disease and blindness were now depressingly common. My answer was to use ever more drugs to try and reduce blood sugar. Exactly the same is still occurring in practices right across the world. So in England we now spend over 600 million pounds on drugs for diabetes each year, yet still the cases keep rising, to over four million people in the UK. This is a global phenomenon, another world-wide pandemic, now killing over four million people each year.

A beacon of hope

Back in 2012 I saw my first ever case of drug-free remission of Type 2 diabetes. Rather than use drugs to reduce blood sugar this person worked out it was logical to cut not just sugar but also the starchy foods like breakfast cereals, potatoes, rice and bread that digest down into surprisingly large amounts of sugar. After all, for most people a high blood sugar is about what you just ate! Instead of carbs she was eating more red meat, fish, eggs and dairy with loads of green vegetables. She had lost 10% of her body weight and looked terrific! My practice has now repeated this ‘miracle’ one hundred times , saving nearly £60,000 per year on drugs for diabetes alone. 20% of all the people with T2 diabetes in the whole practice are in drug-free remission. Doctors, nurses and dieticians round the world are replicating these results which were published recently in two journals (1, 2) In addition to improving blood sugar control we also see better blood pressure (3), lipid profiles and liver function tests.

“The best bit though is seeing people in every clinic I do, become properly well and so very proud!”

About Dr David Unwin

Dr David Unwin FRCGP works at the Norwood NHS Surgery in Southport near Liverpool, UK where he has cared for the same population since 1986 as a family doctor. To date 102/201 of his patients with T2 diabetes have achieved drug-free remission. This gives a remission rate of 50% at 30 months duration of a lower carb diet, one of the best results for any clinic in the world. For the past few years, he has been a UK Royal College of General Practitioners expert clinical advisor on diabetes. As a result of his interests in both better communication with patients and Type 2 diabetes he was made Royal College of General Practice National Champion for Collaborative Care and Support Planning in Obesity & Diabetes in 2015.

In 2016 he was the proud UK National winner of the NHS Innovator Of The Year Award for published research into lifestyle changes; working with patients’ personal health goals as an alternative to drug therapy in type 2 diabetes, so that his GP practice spends £58,000 per year less than expected on drugs for diabetes. As part of this he has also published research into improving blood pressure, lipid profiles and liver function by reducing dietary carbohydrate, especially sugar. In 2019 he was shortlisted by NICE for a prize for his teaspoon of sugar infographics which have now been translated into fourteen languages (including Malaysian). Dr Unwin’s work has been covered by BBC, C4 & C5 television, The New Scientist, The Times, The Daily Mail and The British Medical Journal. Further recognition came recently when David was invited to become an ambassador for the UK All Party Parliamentary Group on diabetes. As @lowcarbGP he has over 63,000 followers on Twitter.

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  1. Unwin D, Khalid AA, Unwin J, Crocombe D, Delon C, Martyn K, et al. Insights from a general practice service evaluation supporting a lower carbohydrate diet in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus and prediabetes: a secondary analysis of routine clinic data including HbA1c, weight and prescribing over 6 years. BMJ Nutrition, Prevention & Health. 2020:bmjnph-2020-000072.
  2. Unwin D, Unwin J, Crocombe D, Delon C, Guess N, Wong C. Renal function in patients following a low carbohydrate diet for type 2 diabetes: a review of the literature and analysis of routine clinical data from a primary care service over 7 years. Current Opinion in Endocrinology, Diabetes and Obesity. 2021.
  3. Unwin DJ, Tobin SD, Murray SW, Delon C, Brady AJ. Substantial and Sustained Improvements in Blood Pressure, Weight and Lipid Profiles from a Carbohydrate Restricted Diet: An Observational Study of Insulin Resistant Patients in Primary Care. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2019;16(15):2680.