Published on 22 March 2016

NHS England have launched a new programme that aims to help people who could be at risk of developing type 2 diabetes to lead a more healthy lifestyle.

Healthier You: the NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme will provide education on healthy eating and lifestyle advice to help people lose weight and encourage more exercise, all of which combined have been proven to reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

More than 26 million people - half of the population - will be potentially covered when the programme begins this year, with a first wave of 27 areas, and making up to 20,000 places available. This will be rolled out to the whole country by 2020 with an expected 100,000 referrals available annually in the coming years.

Those referred will receive tailored, personalised help to reduce their risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

People who may be at risk of developing type 2 diabetes will be given advice on diet and exercise as part of a healthier lifestyle

According to the latest figures, there are currently 2.6 million people with type 2 diabetes in England with around 200,000 new diagnoses every year. Unlike type 1 diabetes, which cannot be prevented and is not linked to lifestyle, type 2 diabetes is largely preventable through lifestyle changes.

One in six of all people in hospital have diabetes – while diabetes is often not the reason for admission, they often need a longer stay in hospital, are more likely to be re admitted and their risk of dying is higher.

A plate of healthy salad.

Simon Stevens, Chief Executive of NHS England, said: “Around 500 people every day find out they’ve got type 2 diabetes – a serious but often preventable health condition. By offering targeted support for at-risk individuals, the NHS is now playing our part in the wider campaign against obesity – which is already costing the country more than we spend on the police and fire service combined.

“The benefits for patients will show up as hospitalisations prevented, strokes avoided and amputations averted. This programme is a reminder that the ‘H’ in NHS stands for health.”

Over the last year innovative approaches to programme delivery have been tested at seven demonstrator sites and the findings have helped shape the final programme to get the best results for participants.

Duncan Selbie, Chief Executive of Public Health England, said: “Type 2 diabetes is one the biggest health challenges of our time and millions of people in England are at risk of developing this serious health condition.

“This personalised, tailored programme for people at risk will offer support on improving their lifestyle habits, including getting more exercise, a better balanced diet and losing and keeping off excess weight – helping people to take more control of their health and ultimately prevent them developing what is potentially a life threatening condition.”

The programme launch coincides with PHE’s new national campaign, One You, which encourages people in midlife to take control of their health and make better lifestyle choices – helping them to prevent ill health and help them live well for longer.

Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Health, said: “Diabetes can have a devastating effect on health – and much of the impact of type 2 diabetes is preventable, so the case for this new initiative is clear.

“This government is determined to allow more people to take control of their own health, and we will be looking closely at the results of this programme.”

The programme will be opened to people in the next few months and throughout 2016.

Over nine months people will be offered at least 13 education and exercise sessions of one to two hours per session, at least 16 hours face to face or 1-to-1 in total.

Four providers have been chosen to join the NHS Provider Framework and local health services will work with their chosen provider/s to deliver a service for their area.

The first wave sites were chosen as they already had significant infrastructure in place to support volumes of referrals from the start.

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