People who are at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes will receive wearable tech that monitors levels of exercise and support from online peer groups. Photo: iStock

NHS England has rolled out a digital expansion scheme to prevent Type II diabetes.

In a statement on Monday, it said up to a fifth of places on its flagship Diabetes Prevention Programme (DPP), which is around 40,000 each year, will be delivered digitally. People at risk of developing Type II diabetes who cannot make face-to-face support sessions will be first to benefit from the expansion starting this month.

Those on the service will receive wearable tech that monitors levels of exercises, including apps which allows users to access health coaches and educational content, as well as online peer support groups, which will allow patients to set and monitor goals electronically.

The DPP has already helped thousands of people lose a combined 132,000 pounds. The programme will be doubled so that 200,000 people can access it annually. The NHS has also announced that it will trial very low calorie diets that can reverse Type II diabetes.

In pilot schemes, access to digital advice led to an increase in the number of people that committed to the DPP. Almost 70 per cent of people referred to digital schemes took part, compared with approximately 50 per cent of those offered face-to-face support.

“The DPP has been a tremendous success for thousands of people already, and this new digital pilot further builds on that success,” said Jonathan Valabhji, NHS national clinical director for diabetes and obesity.

“I’m delighted to see such a positive response among younger working-age people, which shows how a digital approach can expand the reach of patients’ services as part of the NHS Long Term Plan.”

Policy Manager at Diabetes UK, Nikki Joule, added: “This pilot has shown that a digital version of the NHS DPP has the potential to encourage a wider range of people to participate. This could be vital in reaching more of the millions of people at risk of Type II diabetes, and in helping to reduce the increasing prevalence of the condition.”

Almost four million people in England are suffering from Type II diabetes, and the NHS spends more than £6 billion annually treating the condition.

The NHS Long Term Plan has a renewed focus on the prevention of ill health as well as expanding and extending treatment. The Diabetes Prevention Programme, which has already helped thousands of people lose weight, will be doubled so that 200,000 people every year can access it. The NHS has also announced that it will trial very low calorie diets that can reverse Type II diabetes.

Dr Jennifer Smith, diabetes lead at Public Health England, said: “The success of the pilot’s early findings shows we are breaking new ground to help those most at risk of Type II diabetes to literally take their health into their own hands at their own time and pace. Many of us use on-the-go digital technology every day and this is a fabulous next step in diabetes prevention.”

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