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Remote Medical Care and Nutrition Guidance for Remission of Type 2 Diabetes: Impressive Two-Year Trial Results

By Jimmy McDermott and Peter Rentzepis

Virta’s program resulted in “reversal” of type 2 diabetes in 54% of participants after two years. Data show 10% bodyweight loss, 0.9% A1C reduction, and reduced need for insulin and diabetes medications

Virta Health provides an “online specialty medical clinic” with health coaches and physicians who help individuals manage diabetes – and possibly put it into remission – using daily app-based coaching and individualized carbohydrate restriction based on a very low-carb, high-fat (ketogenic) diet.

Virta recently published two-year outcomes data from a study of the program, which enrolled 262 participants with type 2 diabetes. For comparison, a separate group of 87 participants with type 2 diabetes received standard diabetes care. After two years, among the Virta users:

  • 54% had achieved “diabetes reversal,” defined by Virta as an A1C less than 6.5% and no diabetes medications other than metformin;

  • 18% had achieved “partial remission,” defined as an A1C less than 6.5% without medication; and

  • 7% had achieved “complete diabetes remission,” defined as an A1C less than 5.7% without medication.

The Virta participants also experienced many other benefits:

  • Average weight loss was 10% of starting bodyweight with Virta - about 27 lbs – compared to no change in weight among the standard care group.

  • A1C was reduced by 0.9% with Virta (from a starting A1C of 7.7%). Those receiving standard diabetes care experienced an A1C increase of 0.4% (from a starting A1C of 7.9%).

  • Significantly fewer Virta users needed diabetes medications. The percentage of Virta participants using a diabetes medication (besides metformin) dropped from 56% at the start of the study to 27% after two years. For the standard care group, this percentage increased from 67% to 79%.

  • Virta users saw an 81% reduction in insulin requirements at 2 years (from 81.9 to 15.5 units per day). The standard care group saw a 13% increase in insulin dose needs (from 96.6 to 109.3 U/day).

These highly encouraging results were very similar to Virta’s one-year study results.

In addition to the A1C, weight loss, and insulin use benefits, decreasing carbs dramatically reduced the need for other glucose lowering medications – and therefore may also lower treatment costs. The cost savings for the average insulin-user in the study were estimated at “nearly $5,000” annually. Several employers and health plans fully cover the cost of the Virta treatment. Based on these data, Virta recently announced its pricing for insurance companies is now 100% based on outcomes (“at risk”) – if a user does not get benefit, Virta does not get paid.

Those without insurance coverage can use Virta for $370 per month for the first year (plus a $500 initiation fee) and $199 per month for all subsequent years. To offset costs, Virta offers a need-based payment assistance program, and is also working with health plans to expand coverage.

Low-carbohydrate diets are part of a wave of new research looking at putting type 2 diabetes into remission. Click here to learn about three common approaches: low-carbohydrate diets, very low-calorie diets, and bariatric surgery.

Learn more about Virta here!

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