People in the South-East at greatest risk of developing Type 2 diabetes are set to benefit from increased help to avoid the disease.
Tackling Type 2 diabetes is a major health challenge, with 430,000 people at risk of developing diabetes across Sussex, Surrey and Kent.
Across the country, around 22,000 people with diabetes die early each year and Type 2 diabetes is a leading cause of preventable sight loss in people of working age.
It also puts people at greater risk of suffering kidney failure, heart attacks, and strokes.
While Type 1 diabetes cannot be prevented and is not linked to lifestyle, Type 2 diabetes is largely preventable through lifestyle changes.
The Healthier You: NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme being launched across Sussex, Surrey and Kent will support those at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes to maintain a healthy weight and be more active, which can significantly reduce the risk of someone developing the disease.
The programme, which is funded by NHS England and free for participants, will roll out across the country by 2020.
The South-East is one of the first areas across the country which will be offering this support and is currently the largest implementation site as part of wave one of the programme, covering 21 clinical commissioning groups and six local authorities.
The South East Clinical Network at NHS England, which brings together clinicians, patients, carers and health service commissioners from across Kent, Surrey and Sussex, is leading the local implementation of the programme, which will be delivered by Ingeus - a leading provider of person-centred services including employment and health programmes, services for young people, training and skills support, and rehabilitative services.
Around 8,000 people each year across the South-East are expected to be benefiting from the new NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme by 2019, with the programme to begin working with local people referred onto the scheme from September this year.
Commenting on the benefits of the new programme, Dr Alison Barnett, chair or the South-East steering group for the NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme, said: “We estimate that there are over 430,000 people living in Sussex, Surrey and Kent who are at increased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. The Healthier You programme will give them the opportunity to participate in a structured course of 13 sessions, running over 9 months, which will help them make changes to their lifestyle that are proven to reduce the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.“
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