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27.07.20

Fast online access planned into NHS weight loss programme

Those who at high risk of developing Type 2 diabetes will now be fast-tracked into a flagship NHS weight loss programme, Sir Simon Stevens announced.

With clear evidence showing those living with diabetes face a significantly higher risk of dying with Covid-19, the efforts are hoped to bring down the number of people who develop potentially preventable Type 2 diabetes.

The Healthier You NHS Diabetes Prevention programme supports people to lose weight and adopt healthier habits. It is the first national initiative of its kind in the world and has already helped hundreds of thousands of people.

NHS Chief Executive Sir Simon Stevens said: “The evidence is now in: severe obesity can double your chance of dying from coronavirus. So, this pandemic is a call to arms to adopt medically-proven changes in what we eat and how we exercise.

“That’s why the NHS is going to accelerate its offer to help, including through wide uptake of our Diabetes Prevention programme which helps people shift the pounds, avoid Type 2 diabetes, and also slash the risk of severe coronavirus.”

The new research which prompted the measures showed a third of people who died in hospital in the UK from Covid-19 had diabetes. From July 27, 2020, the public will be asked to use an online tool, hosted by Diabetes UK, to calculate their risk of developing Type 2 diabetes by answering a series of basic questions including age, weight and ethnicity.

If a person’s score comes back as moderate or high, they will now be able to refer themselves to a local Healthier You service for support remotely or online, without having to go through a healthcare professional.

Previously, people had to go to their GP or visit a healthcare professional and get a blood test before a referral, but the risk of coronavirus has meant that less people have had face-to-face GP appointments and less people are accessing blood tests.

Over half a million people have been referred into the programme, and those completing the programme who were overweight or obese lost on average 3.6kg, greater than originally predicted.

The NHS Long Term Plan set out radical action to combat the rising obesity epidemic including by expanding the Healthier You programme so that 200,000 a year could benefit.

Professor Jonathan Valabhji, NHS National Clinical Director for Diabetes and Obesity, carried out the research which revealed that people are twice as likely to die from Covid-19 if they have Type 2 diabetes.

Professor Valabhji said: “This is the first and leading programme for Type 2 diabetes prevention anywhere in the world to cover the entire country, and with a track record of success the NHS can confidently expand access and help anyone who would benefit to get convenient, useful advice.”

The nine to 12 month programme is designed to stop or delay the onset of Type 2 diabetes through a range of personalised lifestyle interventions, including education on lifestyle choices, advice on how to reduce weight through healthier eating and bespoke physical activity programmes.

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