Thousands of people will be offered a soup-and-shakes weight-loss plan on the NHS to tackle the rise of type 2 diabetes.
A successful trial of the low-calorie diet and lifestyle plan has already taken place. The government said the programme will now be expanded to reach 5,000 more patients in 10 areas.
The areas rolling out the free weight-loss plan include Greater Manchester Health & Social Care partnership, Frimley Health and Care sustainability and transformation partnership (STP) and Gloucestershire STP, among others.
Bridget Turner, director of policy campaigns and improvement at Diabetes UK, said: “This is an important first step to ensure that people with type 2 diabetes can access a remission programme within the NHS and benefit from the groundbreaking findings of the Diabetes UK-funded DiRECT research.”
The most common form of diabetes, type 2 is caused by problems with how the insulin hormone regulates glucose in the body. The condition can increase the risk of serious problems with the eyes, heart and nerves, and is often linked to being overweight.
Diabetes is estimated to cost the NHS £10bn a year, while almost one in 20 prescriptions written by GPs are for diabetes treatment.
A record 2 million people in England are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes, increasing their chances of suffering a heart attack or stroke, the NHS has said.
Prof Jonathan Valabhji, the NHS national clinical director for diabetes and obesity, said: “There has never been a more important time to lose weight and put their type 2 diabetes into remission, so it’s good news for thousands of people across the country that practical measures like this are increasingly available on the NHS.”
The year-long plans will see those who could benefit provided with “total diet replacement products” such as specially formulated low-calorie shakes and soups for three months, alongside support to increase their exercise levels.
Patients will also be offered managed plans for reintroducing ordinary, nutritious food, with ongoing support from clinicians and coaches.
Results from one trial showed almost half of those who went on the reduced-calorie diet achieved remission of their diabetes after one year.
Bev, who was one of the first patients to benefit from the diets during trials, said: “Since the low-calorie diet programme, my mindset has totally changed for the better and I look at food differently now – my shopping habits are far healthier and, when I eat out, I’ll go for a healthier option. The programme has taught me moderation.
“My skin is clearer, and people say that I’ve got my sparkle back – I didn’t realise that I’d lost it but now I see that I definitely had. I can honestly say that the low-calorie diet programme changed my life for the better.”
NHS research earlier this year revealed people with type 2 diabetes are two times more likely to die after contracting coronavirus. A further study published last week by the University of North Carolina found that people with obesity are 113% more likely to be admitted to hospital with coronavirus and 74% more likely to need intensive care treatment.