Patients with type 2 diabetes to be prescribed 800-calorie-a-day liquid diets

Up to 5,000 patients in England with type 2 diabetes will be prescribed a liquid diet of just over 800 calories a day for three months in an attempt to put their condition into remission, NHS England has said.

NHS England has said it will pilot the new approach next year, following the success of the Diabetes UK-funded DIRECT trial. Under the trial almost half of those who went on the very low calorie diet achieved remission of their type 2 diabetes after one year. A quarter achieved 15 kg or more weight loss, and 86% of these patients put their type 2 diabetes into remission.

Patients on NHS England's trial will also receive a period of follow-up support after the three months have completed.

As part of the NHS’s new long-term plan, the Diabetes Prevention Programme will also double in size next year to cover 200,000 people.

NHS England said that the programme had so far proved more successful than planned, with patients losing on average 1kg more than expected.

Type 2 diabetes

The Diabetes Prevention Programme is a nine month programme, which aims to help those at risk of diabetes achieve a healthy weight, improve nutrition and increase levels of physical activity. As part of the programme’s expansion an online version, which involves wearable technology and apps, will be provided for patients who find it difficult to attend sessions.

Diabetes UK chief executive Chris Askew said: ‘The first year results of Diabetes UK DiRECT study showed that – for some people with type 2 diabetes – an intensive, low-calorie weight loss programme delivered with ongoing support through primary care could put their condition into remission.

'While this ground-breaking study continues to explore how long-lasting these benefits are, we are delighted that NHS England have been inspired by this work to pilot a type 2 remission programme through the NHS.’

NHS chief executive Simon Stevens said: ‘The NHS is now going to be ramping up practical action to support hundreds of thousands people avoid obesity-induced heart attacks, strokes, cancers and type 2 diabetes. The NHS long term plan is going to give people the power and the support to take control of their own lifestyles - so that they can help themselves while also helping the NHS.

‘Because what’s good for our waistlines is also good for our wallets, given the huge costs to all of us as taxpayers from these largely preventable illnesses. However this isn’t a battle that the NHS can win on its own. The NHS pound will go further if the food industry also takes action to cut junk calories and added sugar and salt from processed food, TV suppers and fast food takeaways.’

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