Experts are urging people to take care before starting the popular 5:2 diet after research found it could increase the risk of diabetes.
A group of scientists at the European Society of Endocrinology's annual meeting presented new research in mice that suggests intermittent fasting may actually damage the pancreas and affect insulin function.
The study analysed the effects of fasting every other day in adult rodents over a three month period and found that despite losing weight, the mice increased the fat around their stomachs and showed early warning signs of diabetes.
“This is the first study to show that, despite weight loss, intermittent fasting diets may actually damage the pancreas and affect insulin function in normal healthy individuals, which could lead to diabetes and serious health issues,” lead author Ana Bonassa said in a statement.
“We should consider that overweight or obese people who opt for intermittent fasting diets may already have insulin resistance, so although this diet may lead to early, rapid weight loss, in the long-term there could be potentially serious damaging effects to their health, such as the development of type-2 diabetes.”
The researchers say that further studies are needed to see if the results are reflected in humans.