Weight loss treatment programme for type 2 diabetes to be available across England

The programme shows “early promise” that it leads to remission of type 2 diabetes in up to half of participants after a year, according to NHS England.
Homeless Man Being Handed Bowl Of Soup By Volunteer

A low calorie treatment programme for type 2 diabetes is to be expanded to the whole of England, doubling the number of areas that will offer the service.

The ‘NHS Type 2 Diabetes Path to Remission’ programme, run jointly by NHS England and charity Diabetes UK, will be available to a further 10,000 people in 2024.

A spokesperson for NHS England said the service, which has already had more than 20,000 participants, would be funded with an extra £13m to expand the programme in 2024.  

In 2018, NHS England announced that a pilot would 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.

It followed 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. 

In 2022, NHS England tendered for a £20m contract to operate the service from June 2023, stating that more than 2,000 people had taken part in the pilot scheme, losing an average of 13kg.

An NHS England spokesperson said that participants in the scheme so far had “typically lost 7.2kg on average after one month, and an average of 13kg in three months”.

“This is similar to the outcomes seen in clinical trials, showing early promise that the programme will lead to remission of type 2 diabetes in up to half of those who complete it,” they added.

Participants in the programme start with low-calorie meal replacement products, such as soups and shakes, for up to 12 weeks, and then receive support to reintroduce healthy, solid foods and maintain their weight loss, including help with increasing physical activity levels.

To be eligible, participants must be aged 18–65 years; have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes within the past six years; have a BMI of 27kg/m² or higher if they are white, or 25kg/m² if from an ethnic minority group; and have had an HbA1c measurement taken within the last 12 months with results of 43–87 mmol/mol if on diabetes medication, or 48–87 mmol/mol if not on diabetes medication.

Colette Marshall, chief executive of Diabetes UK, said: “We’re delighted that the ‘NHS Type 2 Diabetes Path to Remission’ programme has already helped thousands of people on their weight loss and remission journey, and this expansion means that many more people with type 2 diabetes will benefit.”

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, May 2024, Vol 312, No 7985;312(7985)::DOI:10.1211/PJ.2024.1.314808

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