Amid rising number of Covid-19 cases, almost 300,000 people have accessed the online tool to check their risk of Type 2 diabetes, the National Health Service (NHS) has said.

The number of people who use the online tool climbed in less than two months after the NHS fast tracked access to its ‘Healthier You Diabetes Prevention Programme’.

Access to the programme was boosted following new findings that people are twice as likely to die from Covid-19 if they have Type 2 diabetes.

“Latest figures show that 291,325 people used the ‘Diabetes UK Know Your Risk’ tool since the end of July – a 637 per cent increase compared to two months previously,” it said

Over 5,000 people have now self-referred for support to lose weight and prevent the onset of Type 2 diabetes and the programme has capacity to support 5,000 people every week.

The NHS is now urging even more people who are at risk to check their risk and sign up.

People can use the online test, hosted by Diabetes UK, to calculate their risk of developing the condition by answering basic questions including age, weight and ethnicity.

If their score comes back as sufficiently high, they can refer themselves to a local service for support remotely or online, without having to go through a healthcare professional.

Professor Jonathan Valabhji, NHS national clinical director for diabetes and obesity said: “The fact that two thirds of our nation live with being overweight or obese coupled with the increased risk of more severe outcomes from coronavirus means that there has never been a better time to lose weight, exercise more and eat more healthily.

“It’s great to see so many people becoming more aware of their personal risk level, but we want to see even more people signing up to the support we have available. It is free and could be life-changing.”

“As the first national initiative of its kind in the world, over half a million people have been referred and those with overweight or obesity completing the programme lost on average 3.6kg, in line with the studies that demonstrated reduced onset of Type 2 diabetes,” the NHS has noted.

Those who qualify will be able to choose how they complete the programme, either by joining group sessions by video link or telephone with an experienced coach or through digital support, which includes online peer support groups and in some areas, wearable tech.

Previously, people had to go to their GP or visit a healthcare professional and get a blood test before a referral, but the risk of coronavirus has meant that less people have had face-to-face GP appointments and less people are accessing blood tests.

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