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PHE diabetes warning underlines need for focus on prevention

By Jak Phillips    26 Aug 2015
The findings reiterate the importance of preventative health schemes such as GP-referred exercise initiatives

As many as five million adults in England are in danger of becoming diabetic, Public Health England has warned, highlighting the pressing need for the nation to tackle its growing health crisis.

New data analysis from the health body has found that five million adults in England are now pre-diabetic, also known as non-diabetic hyperglycaemia, and at risk of contracting diabetes type 2 diabetes. The condition currently costs the NHS more than £8.8bn each year and causes 22,000 deaths.

Previous estimates have put the potential number of adults in England at risk of diabetes even higher, however PHE believes its latest calculations have produced the most accurate estimate so far.

The findings provide a stark warning of the looming health crisis and underline the importance of preventative health schemes such as GP-referred exercise initiatives.

The NHS is currently developing a Diabetes Prevention Programme (NHS DPP) and this will include nine months of information, support, group and one-to-one sessions on weight loss, physical activity and diet. Practitioners, clinicians, academics and the public are currently being consulted on a proposed outline of the programme, with a phased national rollout starting in 2016.

The physical activity sector has been leading the way in offering its exercise and weight management skills to facilitate GP referrals, however experts have identified a need to work more closely with frontline healthcare professionals to boost the effectiveness of referrals. A recent white paper produced by Technogym concluded that the industry must build greater confidence among healthcare professionals and stakeholders in exercise referral programmes.

“We know how to lower the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes: lose weight, exercise and eat healthily, but it’s hard to do it alone,” said Duncan Selbie, chief executive of PHE.

“PHE’s evidence review shows that supporting people along the way will help them protect their health and that’s what our prevention programme will do.”

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