Diabetes Prevention Programme to Be Expanded

Peter Russell

January 02, 2020

An NHS programme to help prevent people developing type 2 diabetes would more than double in size, it was announced.

NHS England said that the 89,604 people who had finished the programme lost a combined weight of 185,051kg, equivalent to the weight of 43 ambulances.

It said the programme would now aim to treat around 200,000 people each year.

Self-help Patient Tools

Prof Jonathan Valabhji, NHS national clinical director for obesity and diabetes, said in a statement: "Around two-thirds of adults and one-third of children are now overweight or obese, driving higher and higher rates of type 2 diabetes that we are now focusing huge efforts to prevent as part of our NHS Long Term Plan.

"Helping people avoid diabetes is potentially life-saving, so these results are encouraging, but ultimately the NHS cannot win the fight against obesity alone, which is why we are providing people with the tools to help themselves – changing lives and freeing up vital NHS resources."

The 9 to 12 month NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme (NHS DPP) offers:

  • Education on lifestyle choices

  • Advice on how to reduce weight through healthier eating

  • Bespoke physical activity programmes

International evidence suggested that behavioural interventions significantly reduce the risk of developing the condition, the NHS said.

Obesity Risk

Helen Dickens, assistant director of policy and campaigns at Diabetes UK, said: "The number of people who are living with obesity in England has almost doubled in the last 20 years. As obesity accounts for 80 to 85% of your risk of type 2 diabetes, programmes such as these are key to helping people prevent or delay the onset of the condition.

"The NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme, however, is so much more than just a weight loss programme. It has helped thousands of people find out more about their risk of type 2 diabetes as well as take action to reduce it.

"It’s important to remember that weight is just one of the risk factors for type 2 diabetes. Others include ethnicity, family history and age."

Dr Jenifer Smith, deputy medical director at Public Health England, said: "Going forward we need to do more to reach out to those who may feel the programme is not for them, including some ethnic minority groups, who we know experience large inequalities in health."

There are currently 3.4 million people with type 2 diabetes in England with around 200,000 new diagnoses each year, according to NHS figures.

Type 2 diabetes accounts for £8.8 billion a year, which is just under 9% of the annual NHS budget.

Projections for 2035 suggested that almost 39,000 people with diabetes could experience a heart attack, and more than 50,000 people could have a stroke, the NHS said.

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