The weight-loss programme, which began in 2020, has been successful in improving health outcomes of over 2000 individuals with type 2 diabetes

diabetes blood test

From February 2022, the NHS low-calorie diet programme, commonly called the ‘soups and shakes’ diet programme, will be expanded to 11 more regions across England.

The programme, which was piloted in September 2020, has witnessed tremendous success in improving the health outcomes of patients with type 2 diabetes. It promotes weight loss through low-calorie, total diet replacement products such as soups and shakes, amounting to nearly 900 calories daily, for an initial period of 12 weeks. This is followed by re-introduction of healthy, nutritious food under careful guidance and support of expert clinicians and coaches for 12 months to help maintain a healthy weight.

Promising evidence

More than 2000 patients with type 2 diabetes are likely to have benefitted from the programme. Early findings from the programme show that participants lost an average of 7.2 kg (more than 1 stone) after 1 month, and an average of 13.4 kg (more than 2 stone) after 3 months.

Recent data show that individuals enrolled in the programme who are consuming low-calorie alternatives not only lose weight but are also able to sustain the weight loss over time.

Professor Jonathan Valabhji, NHS National Clinical Director for Diabetes and Obesity, said: ‘The fantastic results our participants have achieved through this programme are really encouraging, and show that real-world experience is in line with what we have found in trials.’

Expansion across England

The programme, which began in 10 regions in 2020, has now been extended to an additional 11 regions, including North East and North Cumbria, West Yorkshire, Lancashire and South Cumbria, Nottingham and Nottinghamshire, Black Country, Somerset, Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire, Mid and South Essex, South West London, Kent, and Medway, Sussex.

The expansion of the programme is in alignment with the NHS long term plan.

Chris Askew OBE, Chief Executive at Diabetes UK, stated: ‘We’re delighted to see the expansion of NHS England’s free weight-loss programme for people living with type 2 diabetes. Since its launch, this low-calorie diet pilot—inspired by Diabetes UK’s ground-breaking DiRECT trial—has helped thousands of people across England access the support they need to lose weight effectively, and potentially put their type 2 diabetes in remission.’

The expansion of the NHS low-calorie diet programme is on the heels of the NHS Digital Weight Management Programme, which was launched in July 2021 to help adults with obesity manage their weight and improve their health.

Pharmacists pitch in

Last week, it was reported that community pharmacies in England were enlisted to help deliver the NHS Weight Management Programme. Community pharmacists will be now able to refer appropriate individuals to the free programme, which was earlier possible only through GPs.

More than 50,000 adults with obesity have been referred to the programme so far; with pharmacists pitching in, hundreds more are likely to be referred in the coming weeks.

This article originally appeared on Medscape, part of the Medscape Professional Network.

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