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Referral to NHS “Healthier You” programme reduces type 2 diabetes risk

Observational data indicates that referral to the NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme reduces by 20% the risk of those with non-diabetic hyperglycaemia progressing to type 2 diabetes.

A new study has linked the NHS “Healthier You” Diabetes Prevention Programme (NDPP) to a significant reduction in the risk of developing type 2 diabetes in adults with raised blood glucose levels.

In England, the NDPP behaviour-change programme is offered to adults with non-diabetic hyperglycaemia (NDH), as they are at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Funded by the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR), the study examined the association between referral to the programme and reducing conversion of NDH to type 2 diabetes. 

Using Practice Research Datalink data, 18,470 patients referred to the programme were matched to 51,331 patients from non-referring practices. Analysis was adjusted for a number of parameters, including age, sex, time from NDH diagnosis, BMI and HbA1c.  

The rate of conversion to type 2 diabetes was significantly lower in those referred to the NDPP compared to those not referred, with an adjusted HR of 0.80. At 36 months, the probability of not converting to type 2 diabetes was 87.3% for those referred and 84.6% for those not referred. For a group of 1000 people referred to the NDPP, the researchers would expect 127 conversions to type 2 diabetes, while for 1000 receiving usual care, they would expect 154 conversions.

The findings support continuation of the NDPP in England, and the introduction of similar lifestyle-modification programmes in other parts of the UK. The authors suggest further research be conducted on longer-term outcomes, the distinction between delay and prevention of type 2 diabetes, and whether certain populations benefit more from the programme. 

They also emphasise that the focus of the study was on the evaluation of referral to the NDPP, rather than on attendance or completion.

The study results can be read in full here.

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