Published on 28 March 2018

More than half of overweight people on NHS lifestyle education course lose significant amount weight.

An average weight loss to the equivalent of 15 double cheeseburgers has been reported in more than half of overweight people attending regular sessions on the NHS type 2 diabetes prevention programme.

The Healthier You: NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme aims to identify people at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes and encourages them to make healthy lifestyle changes.

In the last 21 months, more than 154,000 people at risk of developing type 2 diabetes signed up to take part in the programme, with around 66,000 of those taking up places for the educational course.

A newly published NHS report on the programme has found that 50% of people have completed the scheme after attending at least eight support sessions over a nine month period – losing an average of 3.3kg.

However this amount increased to 3.7kg overall, when not taking into account those who already had normal weight and BMI (body mass index), but were taking part in the programme due to other health and lifestyle risks linked with developing type 2 diabetes.

Around 90% of all people with diabetes have type 2 diabetes, which could be prevented by reducing obesity, through exercise and diet.

Cheeseburgers on a grill.

Treating diabetes and related health complications is estimated to cost the NHS more than £6 billion every year and one in six patients in hospital has diabetes. Around nine out of 10 people with diabetes have type 2 diabetes which is closely linked to obesity.

The prevention programme is designed to stop or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes in people at risk through a range of personalised lifestyle interventions, including education on lifestyle choices, like drinking less alcohol, advice on how to reduce weight through healthier eating and physical activity programmes.

The NHS report on the first year of the programme “exceeded expectations” with people losing an average of 1kg more than originally predicted.

Simon Stevens, Chief Executive at NHS England, said: “The NHS is already leading the way in the battle against the obesity crisis by slashing the sale of sugary drinks and super-sized snacks in hospitals, and the results now coming out of our diabetes prevention programme are also positive. Obesity is the new smoking and the scale of our response needs to match the scale of the crisis.”

A much higher proportion of men than women typically attend weight loss programmes with just under half of those signing up for the type 2 diabetes prevention programme being male, while roughly a quarter are from black, Asian and minority ethnic communities, groups that are at significantly greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

More than 5,000 people also received digital support by using a health app as part of a pilot project. 

Professor Jonathan Valabhji, National Clinical Director for Diabetes and Obesity, at NHS England said: “While it is early days, this data from several thousand people is very promising. Not only is our prevention programme exceeding the initial targets set for referrals and equity of access, what we are now starting to see is the first set of encouraging weight loss results too.

“Type 2 diabetes is heavily linked to obesity and if those on our programme continue to lose weight, as this snapshot suggests, then it is a step in the right direction and this programme can be an effective part of the solution.”

Find out more about type 2 diabetes

Read the DRWF leaflet A healthy diet and diabetes

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