NHS Sussex tackles rising Type 2 Diabetes with life-saving prevention programme

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NHS Sussex is raising awareness about the rising prevalence of Type 2 diabetes this Diabetes Prevention Week and encouraging residents to take proactive steps in reducing their risk.

Type 2 diabetes is on the rise in Sussex and across the UK, affecting millions and leading to serious health complications such as heart disease, stroke, and kidney problems. Fortunately, Type 2 diabetes can often be prevented or delayed through lifestyle changes and early intervention – and work is underway in Sussex to help people take steps to reduce their risk through information, support and advice.

Approximately 197,000 people in Sussex have non-diabetic hyperglycemia (formerly known as pre-diabetes), representing over 10% of the population, putting them at higher risk of developing Type 2 diabetes which is a leading cause of preventable sight loss in people of working age and is a major contributor to kidney failure, heart attack, and stroke. For people living with type 2 diabetes.

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In partnership with Xyla Health, the Healthier You NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme, also known as the Healthier You programme, identifies people at risk of developing type 2 diabetes and refers them onto a nine-month, evidence-based lifestyle change programme.

The Healthier You programme is available both as a face-to-face group service and as a digital service. When referred into the programme, people are free to choose between the two.

People on the face-to-face group service receive personalised support to manage their weight, eat more healthily and be more physically active – which together have been proven to reduce a person’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

The digital service offers similar support but through the use of digital tools such as wearable technologies that monitor levels of exercise, apps where users can access health coaches, online peer support groups and the ability to set and monitor goals electronically.

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Research shows the Healthier You NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme has reduced new diagnoses of type 2 diabetes in England, saving thousands of people from the potentially serious consequences of the condition. It cuts the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by more than a third for people completing the programme.

Catherine from Brighton who has been on the NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme for 9 months, said:

“Before the programme, my husband and I would eat what we wanted without thinking of the consequences. Then I had a blood test last October and alarm bells started ringing, mainly worrying about developing type 2 diabetes.

“I’m 57 with a beautiful 4-year-old grandson. I want to be as active as I can for him and enjoy every moment, which meant I took this course seriously. I didn’t know where I was going wrong with my healthy diet. When I started this course, it clarified why I had plateaued, then I realised - 'Oh, I'm doing this wrong'. Now I understand and can control my portions better.”

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People can find out if they are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes by doing any of the following:

· Answering a few simple questions on the ‘Know Your Risk’ tool at riskscore.diabetes.org.uk

· Taking up the offer of a free NHS Health Check to assess your risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and other conditions such as high blood pressure (available for those aged 40-74)

· Asking your GP Practice to check if you are at risk.

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Those who are at risk, may be eligible for referral to the Healthier You NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme by their GP Practice.

NHS Sussex Clinical Lead for Diabetes, Dr. Binodh Chathanath. said: "Type 2 diabetes is a major health issue, but with early intervention and proper management, we can prevent many cases. In Sussex, many people who are at risk are not yet aware of it.

“Over the last four years, approximately 17,000 people have been referred to the Diabetes Prevention Programme, which is a positive step, but it represents only about 8% of the eligible population in Sussex.

“We encourage everyone to be aware of their risk factors and to talk to their health care professional about getting checked and accessing the support available through the Diabetes Prevention Programme so that you can get help to make positive changes to your lifestyle. This will help to significantly reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

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"NHS Sussex is dedicated to preventing Type 2 diabetes and its complications. We have implemented several initiatives, including educational sessions and awareness events, to reach those most at risk.”

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