People finishing the world leading NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme in Lincolnshire have lost the equivalent weight of one and a half ambulances.
One of those helping to contribute is 70 year-old Joseph Connolly from Grantham who has already lost more than 11kg of weight having been a member of the programme since 2018.
Around four million people in the UK live with type two diabetes – with diabetes and its complications costing the NHS more than £10 billion to treat every year.
Nationally, 89,604 people have now finished the programme, losing a combined weight of 185,051kg, equivalent to 43 ambulances. In Lincolnshire, almost 2,800 people have completed the programme losing a total of 7,093kg, equivalent to just over one and a half ambulances.
The world first service is the first of its kind to have achieved a full national roll-out.
With expert advice on dieting, exercise and healthy lifestyle, the programme will double in size to treat around 200,000 people every year as part of the NHS Long Term Plan.
Complications from the disease can include blindness and foot amputations.
Around nine out of 10 people with diabetes have Type 2 and there were over a million obesity diagnoses in hospital patients last year.
Projections show that the growing number of people with diabetes could result in nearly 39,000 people living with diabetes suffering a heart attack in 2035 and over 50,000 people suffering a stroke and one in six hospital beds are occupied with someone with diabetes.
A lack of exercise, poor diet and being overweight are all risk factors for developing the disease.
Joseph found discovering how bad his diet was to be one of the hardest parts of the programme.
“The hardest part for me was being given and shown clear examples; I started to understand what I had been putting my body through, how bad my diet was and how the lack of exercise was impacting on my health. The programme provided support groups which shared activities, ideas and issues. This really helped me direct my action to address myself.”
Professor Frances Game, clinical director for diabetes, NHS England and NHS Improvement in the East Midlands 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 prevent as part of our NHS Long Term Plan.
“Helping people avoid diabetes is potentially life-saving, so these results are encouraging, but ultimately the NHS cannot win the fight against obesity alone, which is why we are providing people with the tools to help themselves – changing lives and freeing up vital NHS resources.”
The 9-12 month programme is designed to stop or delay the onset of the illness through a range of personalised lifestyle interventions, including:
• Education on lifestyle choices
• Advice on how to reduce weight through healthier eating
• Bespoke physical activity programmes
The NHS said that people can take small steps to take control of their health and lifestyles.
The increasing numbers of people receiving help from the programme come alongside an announcement last year that people can now benefit from digital services, including wearable tech and online peer support groups, to help more people to benefit from the programme.
Joseph attends Diabetes Prevention Programme meetings in his home town of Grantham. He says, “Since I started the programme, I have lost 10-11 kg and reduced my average blood sugar levels back into the normal range. I’ve adopted a complete change of diet, and I now feel very good and much healthier.
“I’m so grateful to my doctor for referring me on to the programme, where the support from both other group members and our coach, has been fantastic.”
The success of the Diabetes Prevention Programme builds on wider measures to tackle both type one and type two diabetes in the NHS Long Term Plan.