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NHS programme linked to 20% cut in Type 2 Diabetes risk

close up of hands using device to check blood sugar level

Published: 07 March 2023

An NHS behaviour-change programme has been linked to a reduction in the risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes in adults with raised blood sugars.

New research, funded by the NIHR, has shown patients referred to the NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme (NDPP) saw their risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes cut by 20%. 

Data from more than 2,000 GP practices was examined by researchers from the University of Manchester. They compared 18,470 patients with pre-diabetes taking part in NDPP, with 51,331 patients not referred to the programme. 

Their analysis showed the chance of becoming Type 2 Diabetic after 36 months was 12.7% for those referred to the NDPP. For those not referred, it was 15.4%.

The NHS Healthier You Diabetes Prevention Programme in England launched in 2018. It is offered to non-diabetic adults with raised blood sugars, or pre-diabetes. It provides exercise and dietary advice to help reduce people’s risk of developing the disease.

Most likely cause

On average, NDPP participants lost 2.3kg, which researchers believe was the most likely cause for the reduction. Most of the previous trial results have shown that weight loss is a key factor in reducing risk of the disease.

Professor Evangelos Kontopantelis from The University Manchester said: “Type 2 Diabetes is a major public health concern which has been rising globally, with over 3 million people in the UK currently diagnosed with it.

“Previous studies have shown that both lifestyle modifications through diet and physical activity and medication can prevent progression to this condition.

”This study is good news for the Healthier You Diabetes Prevention Programme which we show beyond doubt is a powerful way to protect your health.”

Health and Social Care Secretary Steve Barclay said: “The NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme has seen promising results with a 20% reduction of risk to those taking part developing Type 2 Diabetes, empowering people suffering with pre-diabetes to take control of their own health.  

“Type 2 Diabetes costs the NHS around £10 billion a year, but this evidence-based programme is an example of how we can help people make lifestyle changes to prevent the disease progressing, whilst ensuring value for the taxpayer.”

This NIHR-funded study, hosted by Northern Care Alliance NHS Foundation Trust, has been published in the journal PLoS Medicine.

For more information on the study, please visit the NIHR website.


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