The NHS diabetes prevention programme is set to double in size, after figures show that patients who completed the scheme lost nearly 60,000kg between them.
The boost in size – which will allow the programme to treat 200,000 people annually – forms part of the long-term plan and its focus on prevention.
No exact time scale has been given for the doubling of the scheme, which will happen ‘over the next few years’, according to the Government.
However, from July online versions of the programme, involving wearable technology and apps, will be available for people who find it difficult to attend sessions in person due to work or family commitments.
The scheme, launched in 2016, was designed to delay or stop the onset of diabetes by providing lifestyle interventions such as education on health, advice on weight loss and healthy eating, and physical exercise programmes.
The latest figures have shown the 17,000 people who attended most of the healthy living sessions lost an average of 3.4kg, over one kilogram more than originally predicted and a total of 59,000kg.
Public Health England chief executive Duncan Selbie said: ‘This is a great start, but with our increasingly sedentary lifestyles and six in 10 people overweight or obese the costs to the NHS are unsustainable.
‘That is why we are doubling the size of the programme to help prevent more people from getting this deadly disease.’
NHS England national clinical director of diabetes and obesity Professor Jonathan Valabhji said: ‘Around two thirds of adults and one third of children are now overweight or obese, driving higher and higher rates of Type 2 diabetes that we are now focusing huge efforts to address, as outlined in the NHS long-term plan.
‘I’m delighted that our work so far in this area has been producing really positive results. This weight loss is promising – and we hope to help many more of those who are at risk of Type 2 diabetes to not get it in the first place.’
Diabetes UK senior clinical advisor Pav Kalsi said: ‘With 12.3m people at increased risk of Type 2 diabetes in the UK, the importance of the NHS England’s Type 2 Diabetes Prevention Programme cannot be overstated.
‘These figures show the programme is making a real difference to the lives of people at risk of the condition, and is helping them lose weight to minimise their risk.’