Internet Explorer is no longer supported by Microsoft. To browse the NIHR site please use a modern, secure browser like Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, or Microsoft Edge.

NHS Prevention Programme cuts chances of type 2 diabetes for thousands

Published: 29 March 2022

Thousands of people have been spared type 2 diabetes thanks to the world leading NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme (NHS DPP), according to research funded by the NIHR.

Researchers from Manchester University found the NHS DPP resulted in a 7% reduction in the number of new diagnoses of type 2 diabetes in England between 2018 and 2019, with around 18,000 people saved from the dangerous consequences of the condition.

Someone completing the nine month NHS scheme reduces their chances of getting the condition by more than a third (37%), according to researchers evaluating the NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme (NHS DPP) through the DIPLOMA study.

Prevention is a key part of the NHS Long Term Plan, which set out a major expansion of the Diabetes Prevention Programme.

People enrolled in the programme get advice on healthy eating and exercise that can prevent them developing the condition, avoiding the need for medication and complications such as amputations.

Evidence has shown that the NHS spends around £10 billion a year on diabetes – around 10% of its entire budget – and the NHS DPP is highly cost effective in the long-term.

Almost one million people have been referred to the programme since it was first launched in 2016, with participants who complete achieving an average weight loss of 3.3kg.

Since then, the NHS Long Term Plan expanded access so that up to 200,000 people a year will benefit as part of radical NHS action to tackle rising obesity rates and to prevent type 2 diabetes.

The country's top diabetes experts are expected to say that the programme will improve the health of hundreds of thousands of people.

Being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes can have a devastating impact on people and their families – it is a leading cause of preventable sight loss in people of working age and is a major contributor to kidney failure, heart attack, stroke and many of the common types of cancer.

Moreover, data suggests that people living with type 2 diabetes have double the risk of in-hospital death from Covid-19, compared to people without the condition.

Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said: “It is excellent to see the NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme, recently expanded as part of the NHS Long Term Plan, has helped 18,000 people avoid type 2 diabetes – a serious and dangerous condition.

“It's vital we focus on prevention and provide advice on healthy eating and exercise, as obesity can lead to a number of serious health conditions and is the second biggest cause of cancer in the UK.

“Programmes like this are helping people to live longer, healthier lives as part of our mission to level up the health of the nation and tackle disparities.”

Emma McManus, a Research Fellow at the University of Manchester, said: “Type 2 diabetes is a growing problem. According to Diabetes UK, over 4 million people in the UK live with the condition and millions more are at an increased risk of developing it. It is a leading cause of sight loss and a major contributor to a range of conditions including kidney failure, heart attack, and stroke.”

“However, if you change your lifestyle, the risk of developing type 2 diabetes reduces. This is why the National Diabetes Prevention Programme, an evidence-based programme which delivers personalised support on weight management, healthy eating and encouraging physical activity, was set up. Our research has shown that the programme has been successful in reducing the number of new cases of diabetes.”

The study was funded by the Health & Social Care Delivery Research Programme. 

Find out more about the study on the Funding & Awards Website.

Latest news