NHS exercise programme links to a lower diabetes risk

This is a disturbing thought, but diabetes might be the death of us all. Why? It foretells the ­demise of the NHS, which spends £10billion a year on it.

And that will only rise in parallel with ­obesity, which is at the root of type 2 diabetes. So anything to lower the risk of it developing gets my vote.

Manchester University researchers believe a NHS ­behaviour-change programme would head off type 2 diabetes in people with blood sugar that is already raised – known as ­prediabetes. In fact the risk of ­prediabetes progressing to diabetes was shown to be 20% lower in people on the programme.

Healthier You: The NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme (NDPP) in England is offered to non-diabetic adults with ­prediabetes, providing exercise and dietary advice to help reduce the likelihood of it developing.

From 2,209 GP practices, 18,470 patients were referred to NDPP and were matched to 51,331 similar patients not referred to NDPP.

The team did calculations using a figure of 1,000 people referred to NDPP, versus 1,000 who weren’t. They worked out that by 36 months after referral, they could expect 154 ­conversions to type 2 diabetes in the group not referred to the programme and 127 in the group referred, probably due to weight loss (2.3kg on average) and lower blood sugar levels.

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

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

Professor Evangelos Kontopantelis from the University of Manchester said: “This study is good news for the programme which we show beyond doubt is a powerful way to protect your health.”

NHS national clinical director for diabetes and obesity, Professor ­Jonathan Valabhji, said: “This ­important study is further evidence that the NHS is preventing type 2 diabetes and helping hundreds of thousands of people across England to lead healthier lives.

“We completed rollout of the NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme in 2018, and now over 1.2 million people have been offered support with ­lifestyle changes including better quality nutrition, weight loss, and increased physical activity, which this study shows is preventing development of this life-changing condition.”