The NHS is launching a national type 2 diabetes prevention programme to counter the growing health threat of type 2 diabetes.
There are around 3.1 million people in England with type 2 diabetes. By 2025, this figure is expected to reach 4 million.
The new plans have been developed in response to studies in the USA, Japa, China, India, and Finland, which indicated that intensive lifestyle changes could reduce rates of type 2 diabetes by as much as 60 per cent.
Although there are a number of factors that can influence the development of type 2 diabetes, one of the biggest contributors to the disease is unhealthy lifestyles. Poor diet, lack of exercise, and obesity are some of the most significant factors.
How does the programme work?
The programme will begin with local trials throughout England. Initially, the trials will take place in Birmingham South and Central, Bradford, Durham, Herefordshire, Medway, Salford, and Southwark &Lambeth. If the trials are successfully, the programme will be established nationally.
More specifically, the programme will offer free cooking and exercise classes to people with type 2 diabetes.
In Bradford, everyone over the age of 40 will be offered an initial check-up to assess the risk of type 2 diabetes. The invitation will also be extended to people of ethnic minority groups over the age of 25 (studies have shown that ethnic minority groups have a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes, and at a younger age), and people with other conditions linked to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes.
Those at high risk of type 2 diabetes will be offered support with “weight loss, physical activity, cooking and Nutrition, peer support plus telephone and online support from trained professionals.”
The programme is aimed not only at preventing complications through lifestyle changes, but also screening people with a high risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
In the interest of setting a good example, overweight NHS staff will also be encouraged to join a weight loss programme.
A “bureaucratic burden”?
Some commentators have warned that the scheme could place great strain on GPs. Chaand Nagpaul, BMA GP committee chair and chair of the GPC, stressed that the measures “must avoid producing any additional bureaucratic burden on GP services and the wider NHS.
“The National NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme does have the potential to tackle one of the most serious conditions that when identified late can have serious implications for an individual’s health, and which is costing the NHS considerably in time and expense,” he added.
“The most successful country on the planet”: tackling the type 2 diabetes problem
Simon Stevens, NHS England chief executive, said: “It’s time for the NHS to start practising what we preach. The NHS already spends an estimated £10 billion a year on potentially avoidable illnesses, and the human toll is more than 100 amputations a week and around 20,000 early deaths every year.
“Yet for over a decade we’ve known that obesity prevention cuts diabetes and saves lives. if these results were from a pill we’d doubtless be popping it, but instead this programme succeeds by supporting people to lose weight, exercise, and eat better.”
“So today we commit to becoming the most successful country on the planet at implementing this evidence-based national diabetes prevention programme.”

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