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Diabetes at-risk offered lifestyle help

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People in England at risk of type-2 diabetes are to be offered healthy-lifestyle support by the NHS to help them prevent the condition developing.

The new national programme will be launched this spring, with the aim of helping 20,000 people this year.

Patients will be offered 13 sessions focusing on exercise, education and lifestyle changes.

GPs are being asked to identify the people who would benefit the most from the programme.

This will be done through blood-glucose testing and monitoring for signs of pre-diabetes.

While type-1 diabetes cannot be prevented and is not linked to lifestyle, type-2 often is.

The programme will be available in 27 areas, covering half the country, to start with and involve support such as supervised gym sessions.

The rest of England will follow by 2020, when there will be 100,000 places available.

There are currently 2.6 million people with type-2 diabetes in England, with 200,000 new diagnoses every year.

NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens said the scheme would reduce hospital admissions, prevent strokes and the complications of diabetes, such as amputations.

“By offering targeted support for at-risk individuals, the NHS is now playing its part in the wider campaign against obesity, which is already costing the country more than we spend on the police and fire service combined,” he said.

Diabetes UK chief executive Chris Askew said the programme should prove significant for many people at risk of diabetes.

“This will provide them with the best possible chance of reducing their risk of developing diabetes and living a long full healthier life,” he said.

The cost of the programme is £7m this year – but that is being set against the £10bn annual spend on diabetes care.

Public Health England chief executive Duncan Selbie added: “Type-2 diabetes is one of the biggest health challenges of our time.”

Dr Maureen Baker, of the Royal College of GPs, welcomed the scheme.

But she warned: “The long-term behaviour change we need to see is hard to inspire.”

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