People diagnosed with type 2 diabetes will be placed on a low-calorie diet as part of a new pilot scheme to treat the condition, NHS England has announced.
The pilot, which will start in 2019, will follow 5,000 patients prescribed a liquid diet of just over 800 calories per day for three months in an effort to send their type 2 diabetes into remission.
A statement from NHS England said the pilot follows on from a study of 306 people funded by Diabetes UK, which found that 46% of patients on the low-calorie diet achieved remission of their type 2 diabetes after one year. Among patients in the control group, who were provided current standard of diabetes care but without low-calorie weight management, only 4% were in remission a year later.
Patients taking part in the new NHS England pilot will also be provided with a period of follow-up support after the diet had finished.
Jonathan Valabhji, national clinical director of diabetes and obesity for NHS England, said: “Around two-thirds of adults and one third of children are now overweight or obese, driving higher and higher rates of type 2 diabetes that we are now focusing huge efforts to address.
“Our work so far in this area has been producing really positive results and todays announcement will allow us to go even further — it will help patients who have type 2 diabetes to achieve remission and, importantly, help more of those who are at risk to not get it in the first place.”
Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, added that the initiative will also save money, “given the huge costs to all of us as taxpayers from these largely preventable illnesses”.
According to NHS England, type 2 diabetes treatment accounts for £8.8bn per year — just under 9% of the annual NHS budget.
The pilot will form part of the NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme, which aims to support people who are at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes through a tailored face-to-face programme that includes education on lifestyle choices, advice on how to reduce weight through healthier eating and bespoke physical activity programmes.