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Education's 'power' to prevent type 2 diabetes

University of Leicester study suggests people can reduce chances of getting type 2 diabetes by completing new education program

University of Leicester

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IMAGE: This is Professor Melanie Davies CBE. view more

Credit: University of Leicester / Leicester Diabetes Centre

People at high risk of developing Type 2 diabetes can reduce their chances of getting the condition by more than 80 per cent by fully completing a new education programme, an NIHR-supported study has found.

The new group education programme called Let's Prevent Diabetes, developed by the Leicester Diabetes Centre, could lead to "large reductions in cases of Type 2 diabetes" to ease pressure on the NHS amid soaring numbers of the condition.

Full attendance on the programme, which includes a main session and two follow ups over a two-year period, results in an 88 per cent risk reduction, while people who only missed one follow up session were 60 per cent less likely to develop Type 2 diabetes.

An adapted version of the Let's Prevent Diabetes programme is now being rolled out in the East Midlands and parts of Yorkshire as part of NHS England's The Healthier You: NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme.

Professor Melanie Davies CBE, Professor of Diabetes Medicine at the University of Leicester based at the Leicester Diabetes Centre, who has led the development of Let's Prevent Diabetes, said: "These types of programmes, if applied correctly, are powerful and has the ability to enhance and improve people's lifestyle. This programme has the potential to bring large reductions in cases of Type 2 diabetes.

"Prevention of Type 2 diabetes is a global priority in healthcare, but there is a lack of evidence investigating how to effectively translate prevention research into a UK primary care setting.

"We assessed whether a structured education programme targeting lifestyle and behaviour change was effective at preventing progression to Type 2 diabetes in people at high risk, identified through a validated risk score - and we have achieved success."

The findings were made from an analysis on research, which examined 880 people from 44 GP surgeries.

They either received standard care or the six-hour group structured education programme focused on physical activity and empowering people to make healthier lifestyle choices. The programme includes an annual refresher course, and regular phone contact to increase motivation every three months. Both groups received standard written information and participants were followed up for three years.

People who attended the main session and one other reduced their risk of the condition by 60 per cent and these who attended all of the programme were almost 90 per cent less likely to develop Type 2 diabetes. The effect of the intervention was lower in people who did not attend.

As well as potentially reducing the risk, the group receiving the education programme also saw significant improvements in HbA1c, cholesterol, wellbeing, sedentary time and step counts.

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The study was supported by the NIHR Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care (CLAHRC) East Midlands, which turns research into cost-saving and high-quality care through cutting-edge innovation and the NIHR Leicester-Loughborough Diet, Lifestyle and Physical Activity Biomedical Research Unit, which harnesses the power of experimental science to explore and develop ways to help prevent and treat chronic disease.

The Leicester Diabetes Centre is an international centre of excellence in diabetes research, education and innovation, led by Professor Davies CBE and Professor Kamlesh Khunti. Hosted at Leicester General Hospital, the centre is a partnership between the University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust and the University of Leicester.

For more information about the study, visit: https://lra.le.ac.uk/handle/2381/37777.

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