GPs to prescribe very low calorie diets in hope of reversing diabetesRuth Mabhiza
GPs to prescribe very low calorie diets in hope of reversing diabetes
NHS prevention programme in England to invite 5,000 people with type 2 to take part in trial
Thousands of people are to be offered a very low calorie diet (VLCD) by their GPs in the hope of reversing their type 2 diabetes, NHS England has announced.
The 800-calories-a-day regimen, made up of soups and shakes, has been shown to help people lose excess weight that has caused fat to build up around their internal organs including the pancreas, leading to type 2 diabetes. About 10% of the NHS budget is spent on treating diabetes, which can have serious complications including blindness and the need for amputation.
The NHS has announced a further package of measures to tackle the soaring numbers with obesity-related disease. In 2016, two-thirds of the adult population and a third of children in England were overweight or obese and there were 617,000 obesity-related admissions to hospital.
The diabetes prevention programme, which offers help and support for losing weight and becoming more active, is to double in size to 200,000 people, said NHS England. This will include 5,000 people with type 2 diabetes who will be invited to take part in a highly supervised trial of VLCDs.
The charity Diabetes UK recruited just over 300 people with type 2 from Scotland and Tyneside to test the liquid diet of 800 calories a day for three months. Support was given during and afterwards. The diabetes of almost half who went on the supervised VLCD was in remission after a year, and those who lost the most weight did best – 86% who lost 15kg or more were in remission after 12 months.
Similar results have been achieved through a VLCD in another trial called DROPLET.
“The NHS is now going to be ramping up practical action to support hundreds of thousands people avoid obesity-induced heart attacks, strokes, cancers and type 2 diabetes,” said the chief executive of NHS England, Simon Stevens. “Because what’s good for our waistlines is also good for our wallets, given the huge costs to all of us as taxpayers from these largely preventable illnesses.”
Stevens, who has made it a mission to tackle obesity, urged the food industry to help. “This isn’t a battle that the NHS can win on its own,” he said. “The NHS pound will go further if the food industry also takes action to cut junk calories and added sugar and salt from processed food, TV suppers and fast food takeaways.”
Those who enrol on the diabetes prevention programme but cannot get to sessions will be offered wearable technologies and apps to help change their lifestyles.
Chris Askew, the chief executive of Diabetes UK, welcomed plans to double the size of the programme which, he added, “is already the largest of its kind globally and shows England to be a world leader in this area.
“The ambition being shown by the NHS needs to be matched across all government policy – we need stronger action on marketing to children, and clearer nutritional labelling to support people to make healthy choices.”
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