A new report has found that nearly 1,000 Sefton residents have signed up to the flagship NHS diabetes prevention programme, Healthier You, scheme in just over 12 months.
The report, co-authored by experts from NHS England, Public Heath England and the charity Diabetes UK, charts the positive impact made by the Healthier You: Diabetes Prevention Programme during the early phase of its roll-out.
The programme is the world’s first nationwide Type 2 diabetes prevention programme. Every year, Type 2 diabetes costs the NHS £8.8 billion, almost 9% of its budget, and causes 22,000 early deaths per year. There are currently 5 million people in England at high risk of developing Type 2 diabetes and, if current trends persist, one in three people will be obese by 2034 and one in ten will develop Type 2 diabetes. In Sefton the estimated number of people diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes is 13,954.
Type 2 diabetes is closely linked to obesity, with 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. Patients referred on to the programme get tailored, face-to-face help, including: 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 latest information shows that around 73% of Sefton residents joined the programme once referred. Roy, aged 68, a south Sefton resident and ‘Healthier You’ participant said: “Since joining the programme eight months ago, I feel much healthier and happier and have lost over half a stone and a few inches off my waist. This hasn’t been too difficult as it’s been about making small changes, such as swapping some foods for healthier options and building in some time for exercise. So now I head for the fruit bowl instead of the biscuit tin and I walk to places when I can.”
Pauline, aged 71, a Southport resident also on the programme said: “Since I started the programme in April, I’ve lost over a stone and my blood sugar levels have come right down and are now normal. I’m taking better care of myself and have more energy to do the things I enjoy. I would definitely recommend the programme to those that might be at risk of developing diabetes – everyone is very friendly and supportive and it’s a great way of meeting people in a similar situation to you.”
The programme was commissioned by NHS England, in partnership with Public Health England and Diabetes UK. Currently managed by NHS South Sefton Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and NHS Southport and Formby CCG, the programme is delivered locally by Living Well Taking Control.
Dr Nigel Taylor, diabetes lead at NHS South Sefton CCG said: “We are delighted with the local success of the programme and the difference it makes to people’s risk of developing diabetes. Patients have been so keen to join the programme that the CCGs will be offering more places over the coming months and we will be working with local GPs to identify and invite those patients most at risk of developing the condition. The way it works is that people will be contacted and offered a place on the programme if a recent blood test tells us that they might be at risk.”
Dr Doug Callow, diabetes lead at NHS Southport and Formby CCG said: “If you do receive a letter I would urge you to take up the programme. This involves weekly sessions for the first seven weeks, followed by four review sessions spread over the following nine months.”
Nationally, just under half of those taking up the programme are men, a much higher proportion than typically attend weight loss programmes while roughly a quarter are from black, Asian and minority ethnic communities, groups that are at significantly greater risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.
NHS England’s National Clinical Director for Obesity and Diabetes, Professor Jonathan Valabhji, said: “The growing obesity epidemic and the associated rising numbers with Type 2 diabetes are a public health crisis and cost the health service billions every year. The early signs from the programme are positive and across the majority of England, people at high risk of Type 2 can now get help through our prevention programme, with more than 110,000 people referred already and attendance rates clearly showing that the programme is reaching those that need it most.”
To find out more about the Healthier You: NHS Diabetes Prevention programme, please visit NHS England’s website. To find out more about the Living Well Taking Control programme being delivered in south Sefton, Southport and Formby visit Living Well Taking Control’s website.