Very low calorie diets consisting largely of soups and shakes will be offered to type 2 diabetes patients under a new NHS pilot scheme. Previous trials have found they’ve reversed the condition in patients recently diagnosed with it.
Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, announced radical action to tackle the UK’s growing diabetes crisis. Around nine out of 10 people with diabetes have type 2, which is closely linked to obesity and has also been linked to a string of serious illnesses, including 13 types of cancer.
Stevens said there’ll be a greater focus on prevention, as well as curing the condition. The Diabetes Prevention Programme (DPP) sees people at risk of developing type 2 diabetes given help to lose weight and become more active.
It is hoped the move will not just improve the health of patients but also save the NHS money, as currently the health service in England spends around 10 per cent of its budget on treating diabetes.
So what will the 800 calorie diet consist of?
It’s been widely reported that a liquid diet of just over 800 calories a day will be trialled in diabetes patients, but what does this mean in practice?
People will be given meal replacement sachets that make up soups and shakes, an NHS spokesperson told HuffPost UK. These will contain all the vitamins and minerals needed to maintain good health through this period.
People will need to have four of these meal replacement sachets a day, for a period of three months. There will then be a period of follow-up support to help people get back on to solid food.
The very low calorie diets will be piloted next year in up to 5,000 people aged 18 and over. A previous trial, funded by Diabetes UK, revealed almost half of those who tried the diet achieved remission of their type 2 diabetes after one year.
One quarter of participants achieved a staggering 15kg or more weight loss, and of these, 86 per cent put their type 2 diabetes into remission.
What else will be offered?
The nine month prevention programme aims to help people achieve a healthy weight, improve overall nutrition and increase levels of physical activity.
Online versions of the prevention programme, which involve wearable technologies and apps to help those at risk of type 2 diabetes, will also be provided for people who find it difficult to attend sessions because of work or family commitments.
Chris Askew, chief executive of Diabetes UK, said he is “delighted” that NHS England has been inspired by the charity’s work to pilot a type 2 remission programme. But he also called for the government to provide stronger action on marketing unhealthy food to children and clearer nutritional labelling to support people to make healthy choices.