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Five million people at high risk of Type 2 diabetes

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Five million people in England have blood glucose (blood sugar) levels indicating a high risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, according to a new report published today by Public Health England (PHE).

The report, compiled by PHE’s National Cardiovascular Health Intelligence Network (NCVIN), provides the most accurate and robust estimate of how many people over 16 in England have blood sugar levels in a range indicating a high risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, otherwise known as non-diabetic hyperglycaemia.

Diabetes prevention programmes

It was commissioned by the NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme (NHS DPP), which will support people in reducing their risk of developing Type 2 diabetes by helping them lose weight, be more active and have a healthier diet. The new estimate further underlines the need to act on Type 2 diabetes, especially as it already results in 22,000 early deaths and costs the NHS £8.8 billion every year.

An evidence review also published today by PHE shows programmes similar to the NHS DPP can be successful in preventing 26 per cent of people at high risk of Type 2 diabetes from going on to develop the condition. People supported by diabetes prevention programmes lose on average 1.57kg more weight than those not on a programme aiming to significantly reduce diabetes risk.

Both reports have shaped what the NHS DPP will offer – at least nine months of information, support, group and one-to-one sessions on weight loss, physical activity and diet. Practitioners, clinicians, academics and the public are currently being consulted on a proposed outline of the programme. Consultation responses will further inform the programme, with a phased national roll-out starting in 2016.

"Supporting people along the way"

Duncan Selbie, Chief Executive of PHE, said: “We know how to lower the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes: lose weight, exercise and eat healthily, but it’s hard to do it alone. PHE’s evidence review shows that supporting people along the way will help them protect their health and that’s what our prevention programme will do.”

"Growing body of evidence"

Professor Jonathan Valabhji, National Clinical Director for Diabetes and Obesity, NHS England said: “There are too many people on the cusp of developing Type 2 diabetes and we can change that. The growing body of evidence makes us confident that our NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme will reduce the numbers of those at risk going on to develop the debilitating disease.”

Helping people at high risk of Type 2 diabetes

Barbara Young, Chief Executive of Diabetes UK, said: “Having high blood glucose significantly increases your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, which is a serious health condition which affects 2.9 million people in England, and can lead to devastating complications such as blindness, amputations and strokes, and ultimately early death.

“This is why we are delighted to be a part of England’s first ever evidence-based National Diabetes Prevention Programme and we fully support the programme’s ambition to help people at high risk of Type 2 diabetes to reduce their risk by supporting them to become more active and have a healthier diet. The evidence shows that this is the right approach as these types of interventions can help people to lose significant amounts of weight, and can also lower their blood glucose levels, therefore providing them with the best possible chance to delay or avoid Type 2 diabetes.

“As well as helping to reduce the human cost of Type 2 diabetes, this would also go a long way to helping to reduce economic costs to the NHS. The NHS spends 10 per cent of its entire budget managing diabetes, and unless we get better at preventing Type 2 diabetes this figure will rise to unsustainable levels.”

“While the NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme is a major step in the right direction, we now hope to see greater support from all areas of national and local Government to encourage people to lead healthy and active lives.”

Providing support for changing behaviour

The data on non-diabetic hyperglycaemia are broken down by local authority for the first time, ranging from 8.5 per cent of people in Brighton and Hove to 14 per cent in Harrow. Higher rates are found in areas with large ethnic minority populations or older populations, or both – the groups traditionally at higher risk of Type 2 diabetes. In addition to the inherent factors of ageing and ethnic background, lifestyle factors, including weight, physical activity levels and diet, also play a role in determining the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.

The NHS DPP will focus on providing support to participants on changing their behaviour in these areas to reduce their risk. According to the evidence review, programmes more aligned with the NICE guidance on preventing or delaying the onset of Type 2 diabetes help people lose on average 3kg more weight and significantly reduce blood sugar levels.

Reducing complications

Aside from reducing incidences of Type 2 diabetes, the NHS DPP also aims to reduce the life-changing complications associated with the disease, like heart disease, stroke, kidney, eye and foot problems, and reduce costs to the NHS in the long term.

People identified with a high risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, either through an NHS Health Check or through an existing blood test result, will be offered a place on the NHS DPP when it launches in 2016.

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