Thousands to access diabetes and obesity prevention services

NHS England, Public Health England and Diabetes UK have partnered up with leading companies from the tech sector as the fight against obesity and Type 2 diabetes goes digital.

More than 5,000 people are expected to benefit from a trial which will see five companies and eight areas of the country test drive a range of apps, gadgets, wristbands and other innovative digital products.

Users will be able access health coaches and online support groups as well as set and monitor goals electronically. Some patients will also receive wearable technology to help them monitor activity levels and receive messages and prompts, which is being made available on the NHS for the first time.

This online method of support has the potential to have a similar impact to face-to-face interventions, helping bring down high blood sugar levels and in turn prevent Type 2 diabetes.

Healthier You: The NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme, launched last year, supports people who are at high risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. Those referred on to the face-to-face programme get personalised help, including education on lifestyle choices and advice on how to reduce weight through healthier eating.

This new pilot offers similar support, assistance and guidance but through the use of the new digital interventions.

Patients will be recruited over a six month period and will be given access to the digital products for up to 12 months.

Simon Stevens, CEO of NHS England, said: “So much else in our lives is now about online social connection and support, and that now needs to be true too for the modern NHS. This new programme is the latest example of how the NHS is now getting practical and getting serious about new ways of supporting people stay healthy.”

Jonathan Valabhji, national clinical director for obesity and diabetes, said: “Tackling obesity and the rising prevalence of Type 2 diabetes are the major public health challenges of our time. By April next year we will be providing the diabetes prevention programme to the whole of England – an evidence-based face-to-face programme that prevents or delays onset of Type 2 diabetes in those at high risk. Through this initiative, we have the potential to establish the effectiveness of digital interventions to do the same, so that the reach of the programme will be even greater.”

Duncan Selbie, chief executive at Public Health England, said: “This breaks new ground to help those at risk of Type 2 diabetes quite literally take their health into their own hands. Many of us use on-the-go digital technology every day and this is a logical next step in diabetes prevention.”