More than 4,000 local people who are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes are being invited to take part in a ground-breaking health scheme to avoid the disease.
Hampshire and the Isle of Wight have been chosen to host the national Healthier You: the NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme, which is being rolled out across the country with an investment of £45m.
People who may be at risk of becoming diabetic are referred by their GP for a quick blood test to check their HbA1c (blood sugar) levels.
If the test confirms they are at risk they join the nine-month community-based course and are helped to change their lifestyle and reduce their chance of getting the disease.
The course is friendly and supportive and is run by an organisation called Ingeus, on behalf of the NHS.
The programme is being rolled out across Hampshire, Southampton, Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight as part of a second wave. It was launched by NHS England last year across 27 areas of the country.
Michael Butters, a photographer from Kings Worthy has just started the course said: “My doctor contacted me to say that I might be at risk of developing type 2 diabetes, and so when I heard about the course I jumped at the chance.
“So far the course has been great – relaxed and informative. And it’s helped already – I’ve cut down on sugar and I’ve started to eat better during the day – which I’m not always great at when I am busy at work.”
Dr Sarah Schofield, Chairman of NHS West Hampshire CCG and local GP, said:
“I’m pleased that people across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight will benefit from this targeted scheme to reduce the possibility of type 2 diabetes in people who may be at risk. As a result of our successful bid to host this scheme, over 4,000 people could benefit across the whole area in the first year.
“Type 2 diabetes is preventable. People with type 2 diabetes are at more risk of stroke and kidney failure, but it can be prevented through regular exercise, losing weight, drinking less alcohol and quitting smoking.”
Nearly 22,000 people in the West Hampshire CCG area are living with type 2 diabetes and a further 45,000 are at a high risk of developing the disease .
Type 2 diabetes currently costs the NHS £8.8billion every year and the number of people with the disease is set to rise dramatically over the next 30 years.
It is a leading cause of preventable sight loss in people under 65 and a major factor in kidney failure, heart attacks and strokes.