Diabetes prevention programme helps patients lose 3.3kg on average

Patients who complete the NHS diabetes prevention programme lose on average 3.3kg, according to latest NHS England figures.

Excluding those who already had a normal weight and BMI when joining the programme, this increased to 3.7kg.

NHS England said that the figures had exceeded expectations, with patients losing an average of 1kg more than originally predicted.

The scheme was launched in 2016 to offer tailored support to people at risk of developing type 2 diabetes, providing them with advice on healthy eating and exercise to help them lose weight. More than 154,000 people have been referred to the programme and around 66,000 people have taken up places. To date 4,384 people have completed the scheme and 2,277 have completed at least eight sessions over a nine-month period.

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The programme is on the verge of achieving national roll out. It also launched a pilot project in November last year to look at how digital technology including apps, gadgets and wristbands can support patients. Some 5,000 people are expected to take part in the pilot and so far 800 people have been referred, more than half of whom have logged onto a service since joining the scheme.

Obesity crisis

NHS chief executive Simon Stevens 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.’

Professor Jonathan Valabhji, NHS England’s national clinical director for diabetes and obesity 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.’

Just under half of those signing up to the diabetes prevention programme are men, which NHS England said was a much higher proportion than typically attend weight loss programmes. Around a quarter or participants are from black, Asian and minority ethnic groups.

Mr Stevens is expected to announce a further £40m funding for diabetes care in 2018/19 at the Diabetes UK annual conference later today. The money is expected to help fund an additional 94,000 places on the diabetes prevention programme, 185 additional staff for new or expanded multidisciplinary foot care teams and 96 additional inpatient specialist nurses and related staff.

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