Bid to cut region’s diabetes risk

People who are overweight or obese are putting themselves at heighten risk of developing diabetes.
People who are overweight or obese are putting themselves at heighten risk of developing diabetes.
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Tens of thousands of people who are among the most at risk of developing type 2 diabetes across Yorkshire are set to be offered places on what health bosses say is the nation’s first preventative diabetes lifestyle programme.

Nearly 60,000 people across the region will be invited to join the NHS’s new ten-month programme via GP referrals. The programme offers personally tailored help to reduce patients’ risk of developing the disease through a combination of healthy eating and lifestyle advice, help losing weight and access to bespoke exercise programmes.

White British people aged over 40, and people of south Asian, Chinese, African-Caribbean and black African origin aged over 25, who are overweight and have a close relative with the condition are considered among the most at risk of developing diabetes.

The new NHS ‘Healthier You’ programme will be targeted at these high risk groups in West Yorkshire, South Yorkshire, Harrogate in North Yorkshire and Bassetlaw, the northernmost district of Nottinghamshire.

Dr David Black, medical director for NHS England in Yorkshire, said the programme will ensure people have the tools to make the right changes to their lifestyles to ensure they stay healthy.

Stephen Ryan, northern head of the Diabetes UK charity, highlighted just how pressing it is that people take diabetes seriously, warning that each day around 65 people with diabetes die prematurely.

He said: “It’s extremely important we invest in preventing type 2 diabetes and improving care for people who have type 1 and type 2 diabetes, especially given the prevalence of diabetes in the north of England is higher than the national average.

“We want this money to transform NHS care so that millions of people currently living with diabetes get the right support to manage their condition and avoid devastating complications such as blindness and amputations.”

Some 19,731 people at risk of developing type 2 diabetes in South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw and, similarly, 39,616 people in West Yorkshire and Harrogate could be invited to join the new programme, NHS England said.

Patients referred to the programme can reverse the likelihood of the onset of diabetes by making just small changes to the way they lead their lives, according to regional Public Health England consultant Dr Andrew Lee.

“Type 2 diabetes is serious but it is also preventable,” Dr Lee said. “The programme puts people in control of their health by giving them the tools, information and support they need to make small changes to their lifestyles that can significantly reduce their risk of the disease and the potential complications associated with it like stroke and kidney failure.”

The programme is being rolled out across England after being piloted in Leeds and Sheffield. Since July 2016, 53 GP practices in Leeds have referred 715 people to the programme, and since October, 40 GP practices in Sheffield have made 200 referrals.

Some 3.8m people in England have type 2 diabetes and an estimated five million others are at high risk of developing the disease, according to NHS figures.

Exercise is a key part of reducing diabetes risk and new research shows that people who squeeze their weekly workout into a day or two but fall short of recommended exercise levels still lower their risk of dying from other illnesses, such as cancer and cardiovascular disease.

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