Type 2 diabetes can be cured in as little as eight weeks without drugs.

Cumbrian GP John Howarth said new evidence shows an intensive weight loss regime can banish the condition for good.

The number of people being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes across Cumbria is now soaring, largely due to obesity. There have been cases of overweight children developing the condition.

But Dr Howarth believes encouraging weight loss rather than controlling it with drugs is a far better option for many.

"Being overweight increases your risk of diabetes. If you have a BMI of 30 you are 2.6 times more likely to get diabetes. By the time you get to BMI 40, that risk is 10 times more," he explained.

"Diabetes is one of the most common causes of blindness and causes lot of circulation problems, which can lead to amputations. What people do not know is that obesity is one of the key causes.

"But we know we can cure type 2 diabetes. There's some recent research that if you're a newly-diagnoses diabetic and go on a big diet to lose a lot of weight very quickly, you can cure your diabetes."

He said that in more than half of the cases, a newly-diagnosed diabetic who loses 15 kilos will see their blood sugar levels return to normal.

"That's because the fat around the liver and pancreas gradually goes away and insulin levels return to normal," explained Dr Howarth. "If you had a drug that did that it would be worth billions."

He said GPs need to think about changing their practice.

"What we are typically doing is putting people on drugs to control their diabetes. What we need to be doing instead is encouraging significant weight loss," he explained.

He said the longer people leave it, the less impact it will have - but any diabetic who is overweight can still dramatically improve their health by shedding excess pounds.

"It's still the right thing to do. Everybody will see massive improvements. It's a big challenge, but it will be worth it," he added.

Dr Howarth said people can speak to their GP for advice on weight loss, or research eight-week blood sugar diets online.

He also recommended people try groups like Weight Watchers or Slimming World if they want regular support.

"Different things work for different people, but what's important is you get the weight off and keep it off. Think of it as not just a diet but a real lifestyle change that will dramatically improve your health.

"I used to tell people that the best present you can give to you and your family is to stop smoking. That's probably still true, but the second best present is to lose a significant amount of weight. It will cut cancer rates, cut your diabetes risk, cut your risk of stroke and heart attacks - you will live longer, in better health," he said.