PhD student Jordan Rees looks at the impact of a low-energy diet in combination with exercise on diabetes remission and heart function

Rees’s research is called RESET for remission in Type 2 diabetes and is being conducted at the U of A, McGill University in Montreal and Leicester University in the U.K.

30 November 2022

Jordan Rees is a PhD student in exercise physiology at the Faculty of Kinesiology, Sport, and Recreation at the University of Alberta. Jordan’s research project is called RESET for Remission in Type 2 Diabetes, and looks at the impact of a low-calorie diet and exercise on diabetes remission and heart function. We spoke with Jordan during Diabetes Awareness month to learn more about this work. 

Please tell us about your diabetes research.
Type 2 Diabetes is becoming more common in adults aged 18 to 45 years. Previous research has shown that low-energy diets can bring blood sugars down to normal levels without the use of diabetes medication, particularly in those with newly diagnosed diabetes. This is called diabetes remission. Exercise, such as walking and weight-lifting could further improve blood sugars and heart function. The RESET for remission trial is examining the impact of a low-energy diet in combination with exercise on diabetes remission and heart function. This research is being conducted here at the University of Alberta, at McGill University in Montreal, and Leicester University in the U.K.

Please tell us about the impact your diabetes research will have in treating or building the knowledge base for diabetes.
Often described as a progressive disease, once an individual is diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, the outlook is that they will live with the disease for the rest of their lives. This can be very discouraging for individuals, especially if they are diagnosed at a younger age. We know that diabetes remission can be achieved through interventions such as bariatric surgery, but more research examining different avenues for diabetes remission in this population may ultimately provide a greater quality of life for many living with diabetes. This research will add more tools to the toolbox when giving patients options for diabetes management, and this can be a very empowering thing.

What inspired you to choose diabetes as a research stream?
Nearly one in four Canadians are living with prediabetes or diabetes. In my family, I have aunts, uncles, and grandparents with diabetes. The impact that diabetes can have on an individual's quality of life can be significant. I think seeing diabetes in my own family is what originally drew me to study diabetes. I wanted to better understand the disease, and from there, I wanted to expand our knowledge base and understanding of the role that exercise can play in diabetes prevention and management.

What difference do you want to make or see in diabetes research in the next 10 years?
Diabetes is a complex disease with dysfunction occurring in many organs throughout the body. Exercise in the context of disease is unique in that it has such a wide range of benefits throughout the body. I hope that my research will ultimately help us to better prescribe exercise in clinical populations. I also hope to see greater expansion and support for lifestyle interventions in the context of our health-care system.