01 Apr 2019

With this week (1-7 April) marking Diabetes Prevention Week, St Helens Council and St Helens Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) want to raise awareness of Type 2 diabetes, and encourage residents to eat healthily and be more active to help reduce their risk.

It’s estimated that just over 17,000 people in St Helens are currently at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, which can lead to other serious conditions including strokes, heart disease, limb amputation and even early death. Alarmingly, there are also thought to be almost 2,500 people with undiagnosed diabetes in St Helens.

To held tackle the issue, since July last year 648 people have been referred onto the NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme which sees people at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes given help to lose weight, with 316 then attending an initial assessment.

Diabetes and its complications cost over £10 billion every year to treat and one in six patients in hospital has diabetes. Around nine out of 10 people with diabetes have Type 2 which is closely linked to obesity and there is strong evidence that in many it is preventable.

A lack of exercise, poor diet and being overweight are all risk factors for developing the disease. The programme is designed to stop or delay onset through a range of personalised lifestyle interventions, including:

  • Education on lifestyle choices
  • Advice on how to reduce weight through healthier eating
  • Bespoke physical activity programmes

Recent projections show that the growing number of people with diabetes could result in nearly 39,000 people living with diabetes suffering a heart attack in 2035 and over 50,000 people suffering a stroke. 

Local man Roy Court, 52, shared his experience of taking part in the programme.

Roy said: “Both my mum and my Nan had type 2, and I don’t want it. Once I was told I was on the verge of being diabetic I went from 17st. to about 15 ½ st.

“Being on this programme has led to a whole family change. Jumpers I used to wear are now too big, and I’ve had to buy a belt notcher to put extra holes in my belts - while my daughter has gone from a size 14 to a size 12.”

Sarah O’Brien, St Helens Council’s Strategic Director of People’s Service and Clinical Accountable Officer for St Helens CCG said: “Around nine out of 10 people with diabetes have Type 2 which is closely linked to obesity and there is strong evidence that in many it is preventable.

“Programmes like the NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme are vital when it comes to sharing the information and knowledge needed to support those at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes to help them live a healthy lifestyle, and it’s encouraging to hear that it’s transforming the lives of so many people in the borough.”

Professor Jonathan Valabhji, national clinical director of diabetes and obesity said:

“Around two thirds of adults and one third of children nationally are now overweight or obese, driving higher and higher rates of Type 2 diabetes that we are now focusing huge efforts to address, as outlined in the NHS Long Term Plan. 

“I’m delighted that our work so far in this area has been producing really positive results. This weight loss and glucose reduction is promising – we hope to help many more of those who are at risk of Type 2 diabetes to not get it in the first place.”  

Know your risk

Often the best way of diagnosing Type 2 diabetes is through routine screening. If you are aged 40-74 and think you’re at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, please contact your GP straight away! Check your risk quickly online by visiting www.riskscore.diabetes.org.uk

If you’re 18 or older and think you’re at risk, you may be able to join the local Healthier You Diabetes Prevention programme, which will help you make small changes to your lifestyle. Contact your doctor for further information.

Get support

The deterioration in vision and risk of amputation is often a result of poorly controlled diabetes. The risk of this can be reduced by better understanding the condition, and through good diet and regular exercise.

Call 01744 646246 to book onto a free diabetes education session; make sure you attend your annual check-ups with your GP; and access specialist diabetes support by calling 01744 646200 and choosing option 3, or emailing lesley.mitchell2@sthk.nhs.uk

Eat healthier and be more active

The best way to reduce your risk of Type 2 diabetes is to eat healthier and be more active. For free lifestyle advice, or to access activity sessions near you, such as healthy walks or group exercise, call the local Healthy Living Team now on 0300 300 0103.