Thousands of people have been spared Type 2 diabetes thanks to the world leading NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme (NHS DPP), new research shows today.

New data suggests that the healthy living programme resulted in a 7% reduction in the number of new diagnoses of Type 2 diabetes in England between 2018 and 2019, with around 18,000 people saved the dangerous consequences of the condition.

Someone completing the nine month NHS scheme reduces their chances of getting the condition by more than a third (37%), according to new University of Manchester research due to be presented at the annual Diabetes UK Professional Conference this week.

Prevention is a key part of the NHS Long Term Plan, which set out a major expansion of the Diabetes Prevention Programme.

People enrolled in the programme get advice on healthy eating and exercise that can prevent them developing the condition, avoiding the need for medication and complications such as amputations.

Evidence has shown that the NHS spends around £10 billion a year on diabetes – around 10% of its entire budget – and the NHS DPP is highly cost effective in the long-term.

Almost one million people have been referred to the programme since it was first launched in 2016, with participants who complete achieving an average weight loss of 3.3kg.

Since then, the NHS Long Term Plan expanded access so that up to 200,000 people a year will benefit as part of radical NHS action to tackle rising obesity rates and to prevent type 2 diabetes.

The country’s top diabetes experts are expected to say that the programme will improve the health of hundreds of thousands of people.

Being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes can have a devastating impact on people and their families – it is a leading cause of preventable sight loss in people of working age and is a major contributor to kidney failure, heart attack, stroke and many of the common types of cancer.

NHS national clinical director for diabetes and obesity, Professor Jonathan Valabhji, said: “The evidence is now clear – the NHS is preventing type 2 diabetes and is helping thousands of people to lead healthier lives.

“Summer 2018 saw England become the first country to achieve universal coverage with such a programme. This latest evidence shows that the programme can have a major impact on peoples’ lives.”

Emma McManus, a Research Fellow at The University of Manchester, said: “Type 2 diabetes is a growing problem. According to Diabetes UK, over 4 million people in the UK live with the condition and millions more are at an increased risk of developing it. It is a leading cause of sight loss and a major contributor to a range of conditions including kidney failure, heart attack, and stroke.”

“However, if you change your lifestyle, the risk of developing type 2 diabetes reduces. This is why the National Diabetes Prevention Programme, an evidence-based programme which delivers personalised support on weight management, healthy eating and encouraging physical activity, was set up. Our research has shown that the programme has been successful in reducing the number of new cases of diabetes.”

Emma Elvin, Senior Clinical Advisor at Diabetes UK, said: “This research adds to the evidence that many type 2 diabetes cases can be delayed or prevented with the right support and further highlights how the NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme can be a real turning point for people at risk of type 2 diabetes.

“For some people, combined lifestyle interventions – including diet, physical activity and sustained weight loss – can be very effective in reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes. That is why we need to ensure that all who can benefit from the programme know of it and are able to access it.”

Tariq Khan, a 35-year-old chef from Birmingham, started the DPP programme in November 2019 after a blood test revealed that he was at high risk of type 2 diabetes. He has lost over 6kg on the programme and says:

“Life as a chef can be really hectic. I also had a sweet tooth which meant that I was eating unhealthily and often very late.“


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