Public Health England: Five million people at high risk of type 2 diabetes

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According to a recently released report by Public Health England (PHE) a whopping five million people in England have blood sugar levels that put them at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.

The report has been pegged as one of the most accurate so far providing robust estimates of the number of people above 16 at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes – aka non-diabetic hyperglycaemia.

The report 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.

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.”

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.

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.