South West patients sign up to lifestyle changes to beat Type 2 diabetes.

When 65-year-old Peter Bell from Keynsham in Somerset discovered he was at risk of getting Type 2 diabetes, he decided he had to do something about it.

A routine blood test by his GP showed raised blood sugar readings, warning signs that he was at risk of developing the condition.

Peter’s GP referred him to the Healthier You: NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme which supports people to make simple lifestyle changes which can reduce or even prevent the risk of Type 2 Diabetes.

Six months since signing up to a 10 month programme, run by health provider Reed Momenta, Peter, a retired engineer, has lost 13 kilograms and feels much fitter.

“I was eating too much and I needed to lose weight. The programme has given me a lot of information that has enabled me to achieve that.”

“I’m far more active now, I walk more than I ever did and I’m very conscious of what I am eating now. Before I was living to eat, now I’m eating to live.”

Over 17,000 people have now completed the NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme nationally and have achieved a combined weight loss of 59,000 kg, equivalent to the weight of four double decker buses.

In South West England 19, 441 people have been referred to the programme and 13, 417 reached their initial assessment. 647 have completed the programme with a mean weight loss of 3.8 kilograms.

The programme, which gives advice on dieting, exercise and healthy lifestyle, is being doubled in size over the next few years to treat around 200,000 people annually as part of the NHS Long Term Plan’s renewed focus on prevention.

From July this year, online versions of the programme, which involve wearable technologies and apps to help those at risk of Type 2 Diabetes, will be provided for patients who find it difficult to attend sessions because of work or family commitments.

Dr Liz Mearns Interim Regional Medical Director NHS England South West said:

“Type 2 diabetes can cause serious long-term health problems.  It is the most common cause of sight loss in people of working age and a major contributor to kidney failure, heart attacks and strokes. But by making a few lifestyle changes, including eating more healthily and being more active, you can significantly reduce your risk of developing this largely preventable condition.”

Diabetes and its complications cost over £10 billion every year to treat and one in six patients in hospital has diabetes. Around nine out of 10 people with diabetes have Type 2 which is closely linked to obesity and there is strong evidence that in many it is preventable.

A lack of exercise, poor diet and being overweight are all risk factors for developing the disease. The programme is designed to stop or delay onset 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

Recent 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.

Professor Jonathan Valabhji, national clinical director of diabetes and obesity 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 address, as outlined in the NHS Long Term Plan.

“I’m delighted that our work so far in this area has been producing really positive results. This weight loss is promising – we hope to help many more of those who are at risk of Type 2 diabetes to not get it in the first place.”