NICE diabetes guidance backs GP referral to lifestyle programmes

NICE has updated its 2012 guidance on preventing type 2 diabetes to put greater importance on lifestyle-change programmes to promote healthier diets and exercise in high-risk patients.

GPs told to refer patients at risk of diabetes for lifestyle advice (Photo: iStock)
GPs told to refer patients at risk of diabetes for lifestyle advice (Photo: iStock)

GPs should refer patients at high risk of type 2 diabetes onto intensive lifestyle change programmes, according to updated NICE guidance.

NICE has ruled it is cost effective to offer lifestyle support to people at increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, who have a fasting glucose level between 5.5 and 6.9mmol/l – and estimates that 1.7m patients will be eligible.

Lifestyle-change programmes, such as NHS England and Public Health England (PHE)’s flagship Healthier You programme, provide personalised help for patients to change their diet and increase their physical activity.

The programme was expanded to cover 75% of the population earlier this year. GP Dr Naresh Kanumilli told GPonline earlier this year that the move was ‘hugely positive’.

Diabetes prevention

The NICE guidance also recommends that GPs should see specific groups of patients for a diabetes risk assessment.

These include adults aged 40 and above, patients aged 25-39 of South Asian, Chinese, African-Caribbean or Black African descent and adults with conditions that increase the risk of type 2 diabetes such as obesity, stroke and high BP.

Professor Mark Baker, director of the centre for guidelines at NICE, said: ‘We know that helping someone to make simple changes to their diet and exercise levels can significantly reduce their risk of developing type 2 diabetes. And that this approach is a cost-effective way of managing an illness that currently costs the NHS around £8.8bn a year.

‘We need to make sure that the people most at risk have access to the care they need. This is why this updated guidance from NICE is so important, it will help NHS England and PHE to prioritise when necessary.’

Read more: Why GPs should embrace the NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme

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