People at risk of developing diabetes are being urged to sign up to a healthy living scheme designed help them lose weight.
More than 32,000 people in Leeds are at risk of having Type 2 diabetes, which health experts say is linked to lifestyle and largely preventable.
Some 42,700 people in the city have been diagnosed with the condition, a major contributor to kidney failure, heart attack, and stroke.
The NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme identifies those at risk and refers them onto “behaviour change programmes” to boost exercise and healthy eating.
NHS England said that nationally, more than half of overweight patients who routinely attended sessions on the programme achieved an average weight loss equivalent to almost 15 double cheese burgers.
Speaking at Diabetes UK’s Professional Conference, NHS England Chief executive Simon Stevens said: “The NHS is already leading the way in the battle against the obesity crisis by slashing the sale of sugary drinks and super-sized snacks in hospitals, and the results now coming out of our diabetes prevention programme are also positive. Obesity is the new smoking and the scale of our response needs to match the scale of the crisis.”
Last year, Mr Stevens ordered hospitals to take super-size chocolate bars and “grab bags” of sugary snacks off the shelves to combat obesity, diabetes and tooth decay.
Diabetes and its complications cost more than £6bn every year to treat and one in six patients in hospital has diabetes.
Around nine out of 10 people with diabetes have Type 2, which is closely linked to obesity, NHS England said.
People who attended the Diabetes Prevention Programme lost an average of 3.3kg. Professor Jonathan Valabhji, National Clinical Director for Diabetes and Obesity, at NHS England said: “While it is early days, this data from several thousand people is very promising. Not only is our prevention programme exceeding the initial targets set for referrals and equity of access, what we are now starting to see is the first set of encouraging weight loss results too.
“Type 2 diabetes is heavily linked to obesity and if those on our programme continue to lose weight, as this snapshot suggests, then it is a step in the right direction and this programme can be an effective part of the solution.”
Just under half who signed up were men, a much higher proportion than typically attend weight loss programmes. Around a quarter were from black, Asian and minority ethnic communities, which are at significantly greater risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes happens when the body cannot produce enough insulin to function properly.
It is often associated with obesity and is far more common than Type 1 diabetes.
Complications caused by Type 2 include loss of vision, kidney problems and limb ailments which can lead to amputations.
People with the condition usually take medication to control blood glucose levels.
People who think they have diabetes are advised to see their GP.