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GPs to prescribe meal replacement diets to reverse diabetes

meal replacement diets

GPs will be able to prescribe ‘soup and shake weight-loss plans’ for patients to put their type 2 diabetes in remission, NHS England has announced.

People who have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in the last six years will be eligible to take part in the pilots, which will reach 5,000 people in 10 sites across the country, NHS England said.

As part of the 12-month treatment course launched today, participants will be provided with ‘total diet replacement products’ such as specially-formulated low-calorie soup and shakes, for three months.

NHS England said: ‘To help people maintain a healthy lifestyle and avoid complications linked to obesity, patients will also be offered managed plans for reintroducing ordinary, nutritious food, with ongoing support from clinicians and coaches after that.’

Patients will have access to support to ‘increase their exercise levels’ and virtual one-to-ones, group sessions and digital support, NHS England added.

The new pilots follow previous trials, which found that almost half of those who went on the reduced-calorie diet achieved remission of their type 2 diabetes after one year, NHS England said.

NHS England expects the low-calorie diet programme to save the NHS money and ‘free up staff time’, with ‘almost one in 20’ GP prescriptions currently for diabetes treatment.

Pilot sites include North East London and North Central London, Derbyshire and Birmingham and Solihull STP and the Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership.

Professor Jonathan Valabhji, NHS national clinical director for diabetes and obesity, said: ‘This is the latest example of how the NHS, through our Long Term Plan, is rapidly adopting the latest evidence-based treatments to help people stay well, maintain a healthy weight and avoid major diseases.

‘There has never been a more important time to lose weight and put type 2 diabetes into remission, so it’s good news for thousands of people across the country that practical measures like this are increasingly available on the NHS.’

Bridget Turner, director of policy campaigns and improvement at Diabetes UK, said: ‘We know that some people with type 2 diabetes want and need support from healthcare professionals to lose weight effectively and now as these programmes are piloted across the NHS, they will.

‘People with type 2 diabetes who have put their diabetes into remission frequently tell us how it has changed their lives. We are so pleased to see that others will now have the same opportunity and hope that it won’t be too long before more remission programmes are rolled out across the country.’

It comes as type 2 diabetes expert GPs have welcomed a ‘game changer’ new oral medication which lowers blood sugar levels and leads to weight loss. 

Uncontrolled diabetes and obesity have both been shown to signficiantly increase the risk of death from Covid-19, however, the RCGP was forced to apologise after branded the virus a ‘lifestyle’ illness.

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