prevention

Diabetes prevention programme proves popular in the UK

by Barbara Hewitt on December 21, 2017

A flagship diabetes prevention scheme in the UK has succeeded in signing up significantly more people than expected as part of a nationwide fight to reduce the number ending up with the condition.

A report on the introduction of the Healthier You Diabetes Prevention found that in particular a higher number of men, and people from black, Asian and minority ethnic groups, joined the programme.

(tashatuvango/Bigstock.com)

Those referred on to the face to face programme get tailored, personalised help, which includes education on lifestyle choices, advice on how to reduce weight through healthier eating and bespoke physical activity programmes, which together have been proven to reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

The programme has also recently launched digital support and it is hoped that more than 5,000 people could benefit from a pilot that see five companies and eight areas of the country test drive a range of apps, gadgets, wristbands and other innovative digital products.

According to Chris Askew, chief executive of charity Diabetes UK, with millions of people at increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, the work of the Diabetes Prevention Programme is vital and everyone, including health care workers, can learn from it.

‘It’s essential that we do everything we can to prevent type 2 diabetes before it develops. It is particularly encouraging to see the programme reaching higher than expected numbers of men, and people from black, Asian and minority ethnic communities. These are groups that, despite being associated with a higher risk of type 2 diabetes, are not being reached effectively by commercial weight management programmes,’ he said.

‘The programme has made a strong start in its first year, and we look forward to understanding the longer term impact it makes in reducing the enormous burden of type 2 diabetes on the health of the nation,’ he added.

Around 90% of all people with diabetes in the UK have type 2 diabetes, which is closely linked to obesity and there is strong evidence to suggest it is preventable. A lack of exercise, poor diet and being overweight are all risk factors for developing the disease over time and the programme is designed to stop or delay onset through a range of personalised lifestyle interventions.

Highlights from the report show that the programme received 43,603 referrals between June 2016 and March 2017, some 16% higher than expected and nearly half of those referred on to the programme attended their first session, more than the 40% originally planned for.

Attendance rates for men, for people from black, Asian and minority ethnic groups, and for individuals from the most deprived areas, suggest that the programme is reaching those who are both at greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes, and who typically access healthcare less effectively.

Further analysis of the programme by NHS England and Public Health England reveals that there have been an additional 70,000 people referred since March. In total there have been more than 110,000 referrals to date, which reflect its growing popularity and crucially, credibility among members of the public and the healthcare professionals involved.

In the last 18 months the roll-out has covered three quarters of the country, so that people already identified to be at risk can get the support they need and almost 50,000 people have taken advantage and started an assessment with at least 5,000 people taking up places each month. The aim is to achieve full national coverage next year, with as many as 200,000 people referred and 80,000 on programmes in 2018/2019.

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