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NHS ‘soups and shakes’ diet to become available across the whole of England

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The NHS ‘soups and shakes’ diet will be available to over 10,000 more people living with type 2 diabetes in England this year to help them go into remission.

The NHS Type 2 Diabetes Path to Remission programme will be rolled out across the whole of England in 2024. This expansion will double the capacity of the programme, which will become available in 42 local health areas – up from 21 in 2023.  

We’re delighted to see the expansion of the Type 2 Diabetes Path to Remission programme, which has already helped thousands of people on their weight loss and remission journey, and this expansion means that many more people with type 2 diabetes will benefit.  

What is the NHS ‘soups and shakes’ diet? 

The ‘Type 2 Diabetes Path to Remission’ programme is a joint initiative between Diabetes UK and NHS England. It provides a low-calorie diet and support to people recently diagnosed with type 2 diabetes who are living with obesity or overweight. 

Inspired by our DiRECT study, the year-long NHS Type 2 Diabetes Path to Remission programme offers participants nutritionally balanced, low-calorie meal replacement products (soups and shakes) for up to 12 weeks to kick-start weight loss, with careful support from expert healthcare professionals. 

After this, people receive support to reintroduce healthy, solid foods and maintain their weight loss. This includes help to increase physical activity levels. People can access support through:  

  • Face-to-face one-to-ones  
  • Group sessions  
  • Digitally/remotely via an app, online or over the phone.  

Eligible people will be referred to the programme by their GPs and monitored by them throughout. 

What happens on the NHS soups and shake programme?  

NHS England launched the Type 2 Diabetes Path to Remission pilot programme in September 2020 and over 20,000 people have since taken part. 

The findings show the programme can help people to lose an average of 13kg over the 12-month programme. And the results confirmed the treatment could successfully be delivered within the NHS through digital and face-to-face support.   

This exciting news follows the latest results from our DiRECT study, which revealed that for some people weight loss can put their type 2 diabetes into remission for at least five years. 

The NHS’s Path to Remission programme wouldn’t have been possible without DiRECT and decades of ground-breaking research we’ve funded, alongside our work with the NHS to make sure the results of research rapidly benefit people with type 2 diabetes. 

Colette Marshall, Chief Executive of Diabetes UK, said: 

“Diabetes UK is proud to have funded over a decade of research that has forged new frontiers for people with type 2 diabetes and put remission on the map.  

“We’re delighted that the NHS England Type 2 Diabetes Path to Remission Programme has already helped thousands of people on their weight loss and remission journey, and this expansion means that many more people with type 2 diabetes will benefit.” 

“Type 2 diabetes is caused by a range of factors from genetics to where the body stores fat, with our food environment also playing a significant role. Remission from type 2 diabetes can transform health and wellbeing and potentially reduce the risk of serious long-term complication of diabetes.  

“But we know that going into remission can be challenging and staying there even more so. That’s why we’ve just launched our new remission information and support resources and are continuing to fund research to understand how to help more people go into remission and stay there for longer.” 

How to take part  

To be referred, you will need to fit a set of  criteria, which includes:  

  • Aged 18 to 65 years 
  • Have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes within the last six years. This is because the evidence shows that remission is more likely the closer you are to your diagnosis 
  • BMI of 27kg/m² or higher if you’re White, or 25kg/m² if you’re from an ethnic minority group 
  • Have had an HbA1c measurement taken within the last 12 months and the results were 43-87 mmol/mol, if on diabetes medication, or 48-87 mmol/mol, if not on diabetes medication.  

If you live in England and you would like to know more about remission and the options available for you, speak to your GP.   

Currently people can access similar programmes in Scotland. ‘Soups and shakes’ weight loss programmes have also been piloted in Northern Ireland and Wales and we want to see services becoming more widely available there soon.

DiRECTing new treatments  

Remission can be truly life-changing, so we’re delighted that many people in England will now have access to the support they need to lose weight – helping to reduce fat inside the liver and pancreas - and giving the chance to put their type 2 diabetes into remission. This important moment in type 2 diabetes care has been years in the making.   

It all started in 2008 when we funded the first-ever study to test if losing weight through a low-calorie diet could help some people to put their type 2 into remission. Exciting early results led us to award our largest ever research grant to the landmark DiRECT study.   

Recent DiRECT results revealed it’s possible for some people to stay in type 2 diabetes remission for at least five years. And we’ve supported the ReTUNE study too, which has shown a similar approach could help some people with type 2 and lower bodyweights.   

But we know not everyone taking part in research studies or the NHS programme has been able to lose weight or go into remission. And staying in remission can be even more challenging still.    

Not going into remission or coming out of it doesn’t mean you’ve failed. By attempting it or being in remission for only a short time, there are still major health benefits.   

What’s next?  

We know the NHS Path to Remission programme isn’t suitable or available to everyone with the condition. There is still lots to learn so that we can give more people the best chance to lose weight, maintain weight loss and stay in remission. That’s why we’re continuing to invest in research to discover more about remission and find new ways to help more people get there.  

This includes the NewDAWN project. Led by Professor Susan Jebb, our researchers are developing a new NHS support service that will offer a range of weight loss diets. We hope it will help everyone who could benefit find an approach that suits them.   

You can find more information about remission on our website. You can also call our helpline on 0345 123 2399, for guidance and advice. 

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