Thousands avoid type 2 diabetes with free evidence-based lifestyle programme

Around 90% of people with diabetes in the UK have type 2 diabetes. And with 1 in 10 set to have the condition by 2030, preventing type 2 diabetes is more important now than it ever has been.

Dr Sandra Isibor

“From blindness, kidney failure, heart attacks, strokes and amputations to name a few, type 2 diabetes is the gateway to other serious health conditions and complications. Black people are up to 3 times more likely to have the condition, with our risk increasing from the age of 25 – so we need to take type 2 diabetes seriously.” says Dr Sandra Isibor, a GP with a special interest in obesity, weight management and diabetes.

Whilst factors such as family history, pre-existing health conditions, age and ethnicity are all risk factors, it is lifestyle choices, such as diet and physical activity, that remain the crucial markers in determining the likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes, and its prevention.

The NHS offers the free Healthier You NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme for those at risk. Lasting 9 months, this behavioural and lifestyle change programme has seen 1.3m people referred on to it to help lower their blood sugar levels, through making sustainable changes to their diet and physical activity, and ultimately avoid the onset of type 2 diabetes.

Mabel Oikelome

“The coaches on the programme were able to support me with improving my diet and increasing my exercise, all of which I have continued doing for over 3 years since completing the programme.” Says Mabel Oikelome from Rochdale, who joined the Healthier You NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme after her blood test showed she had non-diabetic hyperglycaemia (also called pre-diabetes).

With her father and brother diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, Mabel knows all too well its devastating consequences, as her father sadly lost his vision due to the condition. Thanks to the programme, Mabel has lost weight, feels more energised and happier, and her blood results are now normal.

Bryan Samuels

Bryan Samuels, aged 54, from Burton-upon-Trent, was referred to his local Healthier You NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme by his GP practice whilst on the borderline of a type 2 diabetes diagnosis.  He says, “This was a wake-up call that I needed to do something as it was quite a health scare”.

Thanks to hard work and commitment, Bryan lost two stone in weight, his blood sugar levels dropped significantly, and he experienced a newfound sense of vitality and confidence.

Type 2 diabetes risk factors:

  • Your age – The older you are, the greater your risk will likely be. However, people from the Black and South Asian ethnic groups tend to be at risk at a younger age.
  • Your family history – You are two to six times more likely to get Type 2 diabetes if you have a parent, brother, sister or child with the condition.
  • Your ethnicity – You are more likely to get Type 2 diabetes if you are from a Chinese, South Asian, Black Caribbean or Black African ethnic background.
  • Your weight – You are more at risk of Type 2 diabetes if you are living with obesity or carrying excess weight.
  • Your blood pressure – You are more at risk if you’ve ever been diagnosed with high blood pressure.

The Healthier You NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme can help you to take control of your health and manage your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

With the support of dedicated trained coaches and experts, you can make small, manageable changes to your diet, physical activity routine, and weight management, reducing your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Participants can choose between face-to-face groups in local venues and a digital service providing coaching through apps and websites.

Latest evaluation of the programme has shown there to be a 20% reduction in type 2 diabetes incidence amongst individuals who have been referred to the Healthier You NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme. Completers of the programme also reduce their chance of developing type 2 diabetes by around 37%.

To find out if you are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes, search for “diabetes know your risk” online and complete a few simple questions on the Diabetes UK website, including about your age, ethnicity and if you have a close relative with diabetes.

If the tool says that you are at moderate or high risk of developing type 2 diabetes, contact your GP practice for a simple blood test to check if you might have diabetes or non-diabetic hyperglycaemia (pre-diabetes). You might be eligible for a referral to Healthier You NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme.

Dr Sandra Isibor concludes: “Prevention is paramount with diabetes, because as it stands there is no cure for the condition. You have nothing to lose, everything to gain!”

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