5,000 at risk of Type 2 diabetes to be referred to diet and exercise scheme

More than 200,000 residents across Suffolk and Essex could be putting themselves at risk of contract

The prevention programme creates a diet and exercise plan for the patient - Credit: PA

Doctors are looking to refer nearly 5,000 people at risk of type 2 diabetes in Suffolk and north-east Essex onto a tailored diet and exercise prevention programme this year. 

There are currently 54,000 people with the condition in Suffolk and north-east Essex, which - unlike Type 1 diabetes - is largely preventable through lifestyle changes. 

The free NHS National Diabetes Prevention Programme (NDPP) supports people at risk by creating diet and exercise plans and helping them make the necessary changes to their lifestyle. 

To mark National Type 2 Diabetes Prevention Week, which launched on Monday, doctors are promoting the availability of more places on the programme. 

David Egan, prescribing lead with the Ipswich and East Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group, appears

Dr David Egan - Credit: Archant

Dr David Egan, GP and Ipswich and East Suffolk diabetes lead, said: “This is a fantastic opportunity to reach out to patients at risk and, with their involvement, help to improve their chances of staying healthier for longer.

"We know this course can work very well with the right support and to be able to roll it out on this scale is very exciting. 

“Type 2 diabetes is currently one of the biggest threats to our population’s health and yet it’s a condition which can be delayed or prevented.

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"I would encourage everyone at risk of diabetes to consider getting tested, especially higher risk groups such as those from Black or Asian backgrounds.”

The project is being delivered under a national three-year contract with Xyla Health and Wellbeing, which has been commissioned to deliver the NHS Healthier You: Diabetes Prevention Programme by North East Essex, Ipswich and East Suffolk and West Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Groups.

Covid-19 has highlighted the vulnerability of people with a long-term condition and those who are obese.

Patients with type 2 diabetes are at double the risk of dying from Covid-19, according to a study published in The Lancet.

The condition is also a leading cause of preventable sight loss in people of working age.

It is a major contributory factor to kidney failure, heart attacks and strokes. It also makes it more difficult for patients to fight serious conditions such as cancer and heart disease.

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National Type 2 Diabetes Awareness Week is this week - Credit: EDP, Archant

Dr Jon Ferdinand, GP at Wickhambrook Surgery and West Suffolk diabetes lead, said: “This is a free service supporting people in creating individual diet and exercise plans based on their own preferences and needs.

"This tailored NHS programme is a tremendous opportunity to start afresh.

“It’s never too late to start looking after yourself. Making changes now can help you remain as healthy and active as possible in the years to come with a better quality of life to spend time with the people around you.”

It is estimated there are 60,799 pre-diabetic people over the age of 16 in Suffolk and 32,369 in north-east Essex - which is 12% of the total adult population in the region.

Colin Parsons, from Clacton, was overweight and asthmatic when he started the programme.

By the end, he weighed 3st less and had reversed his asthma diagnosis.

He said: “The benefits for me have far outweighed just weight loss. I’ve made what I learned from the programme work for me.

"I continue to watch what I eat. I’ve cut out the rubbish, I take regular exercise to get my heart rate up, I keep my weight down and I still drink red wine, Guinness and eat steak.

"It’s about doing things in moderation, not giving up everything you love."

The course is open to anyone over the age of 18 who has had a blood test within the last 24 months showing an average blood glucose level within the specified pre-diabetic range.

Anyone can check their own risk status and find out if they are eligible to join the programme by completing the ‘Know Your Risk’ online assessment on the Diabetes UK website here.

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