NHS England has announced the expansion of the 'soups and shakes' weight loss programme for type 2 diabetes patients to all parts of England from March next year.

The scheme was being rolled out nationwide because initial data from the programme shows ‘early promise’ it might lead to diabetes remission in ‘up to half’ of patients, NHS England said.

It was initially launched at 10 sites in 2020, reaching 5,000 patients, and was expanded to a further 11 areas last year.

Latest pilot data showed that:

  • Participants lost an average of over 13kg (two stone) in three months which was maintained at six months.
  • By the end of the year long programme, people had lost 11kg on average (over 1.5 stone).
  • Weight loss was similar to that seen in clinical trials, showing early promise that the programme might lead to remission in up to half of people with type 2 diabetes.

Commissioners said they were also led by research from the Diabetes Remission Clinical Trial (DiRECT), which has shown that losing weight can put type 2 diabetes in remission for at least five years in some people.

ICBs have been tasked with restoring diabetes services to pre-pandemic levels, backed by a £36m investment, according to NHS England.

NHS national clinical director for diabetes and obesity Professor Jonathan Valabhji said: Research is clear that weight loss where indicated goes a long way to helping people stay well and avoiding preventable illness, and in many cases it can be the trigger for putting type 2 diabetes into remission.

‘So I am delighted that thousands more people are making use of this programme with thousands more set to benefit across England in the coming year.

‘This programme is also the latest example of the NHS effectively deploying evidence-based treatments to help people with type 2 diabetes live well. Obesity is a significant factor and cause of several serious diseases, so the NHS is always here to help people to lose weight when necessary, and live healthier lives.’

Diabetes UK chief executive Chris Askew said: ‘We are thrilled to see that NHS England’s Type 2 Diabetes Path to Remission Programme will be rolled out across the whole of England, giving thousands more people the chance to put their type 2 diabetes into remission.

‘Remission from type 2 diabetes can be life-changing but we know weight loss is really hard and getting the right support is critical. For those who aren’t able to go into remission, losing weight can still lead to major health benefits, including improved blood sugar levels, and reduced risk of serious diabetes complications such as heart attack and stroke.

‘Today’s important announcement is the result of over a decade of research funded by Diabetes UK, and we are proud that our ground-breaking DiRECT trial – which recently reported its five-year findings – has been central to making this possible. The expansion of this programme will offer even more people with type 2 diabetes a better chance of a healthier future.’

Diabetes is estimated to cost the NHS £10bn a year, with treatment accounting for one in 20 prescriptions.

And antidiabetic drugs cost the NHS £746m in 2021/22 -  an increase of 76% since 2015/16 from £423m.

This article first appeared on our sister publication, Pulse