Diabetes care in Somerset: low calorie diet

A diet to help people fight type 2 diabetes

People with type 2 diabetes in Somerset are being offered a free low-calorie diet and lifestyle support programme to help them achieve long-term health, lose weight and, potentially, put their diabetes into remission

The NHS Low Calorie Diet Programme opened to referrals in Somerset at the end of April 2022, as part of an NHS drive to increase access to this life-changing programme which has been proven to have lasting effects on peoples’ health.

About the service

The NHS Long Term Plan made a commitment to test an NHS programme supporting low calorie diets for people living with obesity and type 2 diabetes.

The NHS Low Calorie Diet is being offered to patients in Somerset, as part of a pilot, and it is being delivered as in-person groups across the county.

Research has shown that the combination of a low-calorie diet and intensive lifestyle support can help many people put their Type 2 diabetes into remission. 

Studies also suggest that significant and rapid weight loss (10-15kg), as quickly and safely as possible following diagnosis, appears to more beneficial than slower and steadier weight loss which has been traditionally recommended.

The programme is available through referral from General Practices and may be suitable for adults aged 18-65 years, diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in the last six years and living with overweight or obesity who also meet other eligibility criteria.

How we did it

The year-long programme, which is fully supported and monitored by expert clinicians and coaches throughout, kickstarts weight loss through low calorie, total diet replacement products such as shakes and soups for the first three months.

After this, a carefully managed plan reintroduces healthy, nutritious food and participants receive regular support and monitoring from trained health coaches, along with a variety of tools and resources to enable them to track their progress and develop skills to maintain their new healthier weight for the long term.

This 12-month programme provides participants with the support and guidance they need throughout every stage of the programme.

Participants are closely monitored whilst they are on the programme and the provider (Momenta) links in with their GP practice if any thresholds are breached and actions are required – for example if medicines need to be changed.

Working together

The Low Calorie Diet is provided by Momenta Newcastle who are providing the face-to-face delivery of the programme.

In collaboration with the project officer and clinical lead for the programme, the team have provided regular communications and education to general practices in Somerset.

They have also provided drop-in sessions and produced a number of resources, including EMIS search videos and a referral toolkit, to support with referrals. In addition to this, the clinical lead has offered his time to support referrals by way of a virtual clinic to support larger practices who are struggling with clinical time.

A Team Net website has also been created to serve as a resource platform for general practices to easily access information about the programme, including when and where programmes are starting, along with resources and guidance to support referrals.

Measuring Success

So far, after completing the first 10 weeks of the NHS Low Calorie Diet, participants have on average lost 15kg (2½ stone), with an average weight loss of 15% body weight.

In the DiRECT clinical trial which informed this programme, 46% of participants achieved remission from their type 2 diabetes at year 1 and over 78% of these remained in remission at year 2.

Many participants reduced or stopped medications and experienced a wide range of other benefits from feeling and sleeping better to having less pain and fewer diabetes complications.

As well as helping individuals lead happier and healthier lives, enhanced action on obesity and diabetes is also expected to save the NHS money and free up staff time. Diabetes is estimated to cost the NH