Published on 10 April 2019

Healthy living sessions help people lose on average 3.4kg.

Healthy living sessions organised as part of the NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme have helped people with type 2 diabetes lose weight as part of recommended dietary and lifestyle changes.

An average of around 3.4kg weight loss was recorded in 17,000 people with type 2 diabetes taking part in the programme – more than one 1kg more than originally predicted.

These results amount to around 60,000kg in weight being lost in total.

The NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme gives advice on dieting, exercise and healthy lifestyle, and is set to double in size over the next few years to treat around 200,000 people annually as part of the NHS Long Term Plan’s renewed focus on preventing type 2 diabetes.

From July, online versions of the programme, which involve wearable technologies and apps to help those at risk of type 2 diabetes, will be provided to people who find it difficult to attend sessions because of work or family commitments.

The annual cost to the NHS of treating diabetes and its complications is estimated at more than £10 billion – with one in six patients in hospital having diabetes. Around nine out of 10 people with diabetes have type 2, which is closely linked to obesity, and there is strong evidence that the condition could be preventable with healthy lifestyle changes – including eating better and being more active.

The prevention programme is designed to stop or delay onset of type 2 diabetes through a range of personalised lifestyle interventions.

A person weighing themselves on scales.

Recent projections showed that the growing number of people with diabetes could result in urgent action to prevent type 2 diabetes following health projections that warned around 39,000 people living with diabetes could be at risk of suffering a heart attack in 2035 and more than 50,000 people suffering a stroke.

Professor Jonathan Valabhji, NHS England National Clinical Director of Diabetes and Obesity said: “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 address, as outlined in the NHS Long Term Plan.

“I’m delighted that our work so far in this area has been producing really positive results. This weight loss is promising – and we hope to help many more of those who are at risk of type 2 diabetes to not get it in the first place.”

Harry Matharu was diagnosed by his GP as being pre-diabetic and borderline obese when he was 56. Harry decided to take action, to review his sedentary and slow-paced lifestyle, and lost over 3 stone after being referred to the NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme.

Harry said: “The prevention programme has changed my life. Since I started it, I’ve gone through at least three different clothing sizes and from a waist 42 to a 28. Above and beyond the weight loss – I’m healthier and I’m happier. I’m 56 now and my next big goal is to get a six-pack by 60.”

Duncan Selbie, Chief Executive at Public Health England said: “This is a great start, but with our increasingly sedentary lifestyles and 6 in 10 people overweight or obese the costs to the NHS are unsustainable. That is why we are doubling the size of the programme to help prevent more people from getting this deadly disease.”

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “This is hard proof that we can help people with diabetes change their lives by arming them with information and, in the coming months, cutting edge tech. It’s why the Long Term Plan for the NHS – backed by an extra £33.9 billion a year by 2023/24 – has prevention at its heart, so we can help more people live longer and healthier lives.”

Find out more about the NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme
Read the NHS Long Term Plan
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