Patients who completed the flagship diabetes prevention scheme lost an average of 3.3kg, according to latest figures from NHS England.
However, when excluding those who already had a normal weight and BMI, they reported that this increased to 3.7kg.
NHS England said that the weight loss was ‘equivalent to nearly 15 double cheeseburgers’.
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.
Of the 154,000 patients referred, around 66,000 have taken up places on the programme so far, with just under 4,400 of those completing it or at least eight sessions.
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.’
The organisation’s national clinical director for diabetes and obesity Professor Jonathan Valabhji added: ‘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.’
Public Health England chief executive Duncan Selbie said: ‘The diabetes prevention programme is working, and alongside other public health interventions like sugar reduction it will help to turn the tide on obesity’.
According to the figures, just under half of those taking part are men, with around one-quarter of all participants being from black, Asian and minority ethnic communities, who are at a much higher risk of developing the condition.
It was also noted that as there is an increased prevalence of obesity within poorer communities, ‘action to tackle it also directly reduces health inequalities’.
Last year NICE published new guidance on the prevention of diabetes, which included a new indictor to reward GPs for patients they had referred to the programme, who were diagnosed with non-diabetic hyperglycaemia in the 12 months prior.