Soup and Shakes Diet helps to fight Type 2 diabetes in Birmingham and Solihull

Since Justin Clarke, aged 45, from Birmingham started attending the NHS low-calorie diet programme his life has been transformed.

NHS soup and shake weight-loss plans are helping people to beat Type 2 diabetes in Birmingham and Solihull, which is one of the first sites in England to pilot the initiative. The success of the special diet plan in Birmingham and Solihull is being highlighted by NHS England and NHS Improvement in the Midlands ahead of Diabetes Week, which runs from 14 – 20 June.

The low-calorie diet and lifestyle support have been shown to put Type 2 diabetes into remission for people recently diagnosed with the condition, and are being provided to 5,000 more patients in 10 pilot areas including Birmingham and Solihull as the next stage in an NHS drive to increase access to the life-changing programme. Local NHS statistics show that the first 65 people who have completed the first 12 weeks or the ‘total diet replacement’ phase of the programme have lost an average of 11.2% of their starting weight.

The year-long plans see participants provided with ‘total diet replacement products’, such as specially formulated low calorie shakes and soups, for three months, followed by support to eat more healthily and increase their activity levels over the long-term.

Since Justin Clarke, aged 45, from Birmingham started attending the NHS low-calorie diet programme with Momenta Newcastle his life has been transformed. “By the middle of 2020 I was taking eight tablets a day to manage various conditions,” said Justin. “I knew I needed to lose weight to improve my health and was so relieved when my GP talked to me about a referral to the programme. At last I was offered something to help me after years of being given no more support than being told ‘you’re overweight, you need to lose weight’.

“I was handed a lifeline when I was in the right frame of mind so I followed the programme to the letter. The 12-week Total Diet Replacement phase was monotonous and I really missed chewing solid food. But I looked at it as medication to get better and at least liked the wide choice of products and flavours. I was worried about piling the weight back on when I started eating ‘real food’ again but I’ve carried on losing weight sensibly – I’ve found building up my step count really important in so many ways.

“So far I’ve lost over 50kgs – 34% of my starting weight! I’m coming off many of my meds too. My mobility’s better and I’ve got a new wardrobe – I feel comfortable in my clothes. My snoring and sleep have improved, I’m enjoying exercise and I’m on a waiting list for a hernia repair. And I don’t have to do three fingerprick tests a day for blood glucose monitoring any more.

“For me, everything worked! My GPs told me that if I came in for a blood test now they would not suspect diabetes. I’ll keep giving it the best I can – the programme is genuinely one of the best things I’ve done. If you think you’re eligible talk to your GP about a referral – you’ve got nothing to lose.”

People living with diabetes face a significantly higher risk of dying with COVID-19, with over a third of deaths in Birmingham and Solihull associated with the condition according to local NHS statistics. However, better management of the condition can help improve control and lead to better outcomes.

As well as helping individuals lead happier and healthier lives, enhanced action on obesity and diabetes is also expected to save the NHS money and free up staff time. Diabetes is estimated to cost the NHS £10 billion a year, while almost one in 20 prescriptions written by GPs is for diabetes treatment.

Dr Nashat Qamar, Strategic Clinical Champion for Diabetes in Birmingham and Solihull and GP Lead for the pilot, said: “We were delighted to be selected as one of the original pilot sites for the NHS low-calorie diet programme and following our successful launch last year, we continue to be excited about the opportunity to transform the lives of patients in Birmingham and Solihull with Type 2 diabetes.

“Patients like Justin have been given a new lease of life through this programme and its good news for patients in the Midlands that lifestyle interventions such as the ‘low-calorie diet’ are increasingly available on the NHS.

“There has never been a more important time for people to lose weight and put their Type 2 diabetes in remission. So, if you think you are eligible for this programme, please speak to your GP about making a referral.“

Sites such as Birmingham and Solihull across the country are testing evidence from the original trials in a ‘real world’ implementation during a 12-month treatment course.

People living with Type 2 diabetes who have been diagnosed with the condition in the last six years are being considered for the pilots. Individuals must also meet other eligibility criteria to be referred to the service to ensure the programme is right for them. The interventions will provide low-calorie Total Diet Replacement products alongside virtual one-to-ones, group sessions and digital support.