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World Diabetes Day – 14 November 2022

With World Diabetes Day just around the corner NHS Somerset is celebrating the rollout of a service to help hundreds of people beat Type 2 diabetes. So far, after completing the first 10 weeks of the NHS Low Calorie Diet, sometimes called the ‘soups and shakes diet’, participants have on average lost 15kg (2½ stone)!

Research has shown that the combination of a low-calorie diet and lifestyle support can help many people put their Type 2 diabetes into remission. Many participants also reduce or stop medications and experience a wide range of other benefits from feeling and sleeping better to having less pain and fewer diabetes complications.

The NHS Low Calorie Diet is being provided to patients in Somerset, as part of an NHS drive to increase access to this life-changing programme. The year-long plan provides participants with ‘total diet replacement products’ – specially formulated low-calorie shakes, soups and bars – for three months, followed by support to eat more healthily and get more active over the long-term. The entire service is provided at no cost to patients, which is particularly helpful during the cost-of-living crisis.

Since Phil Mahoney, aged 65, from Taunton started attending the NHS Low Calorie Diet programme with Momenta his life has been transformed. “I used to work in local Government, but took early retirement to focus on treating some challenging health conditions. After I stopped working I noticed my weight kept increasing – until I reached my heaviest at 127kg (20 stone)”.

“I was also diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. I bought my own home-testing kit and managed to keep this on a level, supported by a mix of tablets. But nothing I did brought HbA1c down from 60 mmol/mol”.

“One day I got a letter from my GP practice in Taunton inviting me to learn more about the new NHS Low Calorie Diet programme. As soon as I got the letter, I called the practice. Once I knew what this was about, I grabbed the opportunity with both hands – I was desperate to do it. Plus, my wife had also had a health scare recently – and we had a new grandchild. I had everything to live for and wanted to do this not just for me, but for all of them.”

“From my first session, the group were full of support – it was so nice to be surrounded by people in a similar position. And the first time I tasted one of the shakes I was so surprised with how much I liked it that I even got my wife to try it too!”

“I fully committed to the programme as my ultimate goal was putting my diabetes into remission. I even took my products and a set of scales on a holiday with friends, so I knew I wasn’t going to go off track. I started to see the weight coming off – even in a short space of time the programme was already working. The more sessions I went to, the more weight I lost. I felt better than I had for years.”

“When I started eating again, I was frightened I was going to undo all my achievements over the previous 3 months. But when I put into practice a lot of what we discussed in the sessions it got much easier. What’s been very helpful all the way through the programme is the support I get from the group, our coach and the fantastic resources that I always look over when I’m unsure.”

“I realised how lucky I am to have such a fantastic support network of family and friends. This was the biggest thing for me, you need to have support to be able to do this and achieve diabetes remission.”

“It may not happen straight away but keep going and don’t give up – you have to persevere. After the first 2 phases of the programme, I’ve lost 14kg (over 2 stone) and am feeling more energetic than before. I already need a new wardrobe! I had a pair of jeans that I was using for a special occasion. I tried them on and they were too big – I’ve now lost 4 jeans sizes in a matter of months.”

“My recent blood test at the GP showed my HbA1c is now down to 45mmol/mol. To be told that if you keep working at this then you’ll be in remission is the best thing I could hear – I had to share the news on social media I was that happy!”

“I’m now in Phase 3 of the programme. It’s simply life-changing and I can’t wait to see the person looking back at me in the mirror in June 2023 when I finish. I also can’t wait to see the progress everyone else makes too.”

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 NHS £10 billion a year, while almost one in 20 prescriptions written by GPs is for diabetes treatment.

Dr Henk Bruggers, GP and Clinical Lead for Diabetes at NHS Somerset, said: “We are delighted that the NHS Low Calorie Diet programme is giving patients like Phil the opportunity to transform their lives, reversing diabetes and sustaining their weight loss.”

“There’s never been a more important time for people to lose weight and put their Type 2 diabetes into remission, so it’s good news for patients in Somerset that practical measures like this are increasingly available on the NHS.”

People aged 18-65 diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in the last six years and who meet various other eligibility criteria are being invited to discuss whether the programme is right for them and, if so, be referred onto the service. The interventions will provide low calorie total diet replacement products alongside in-person group sessions and support. The service, provided by Momenta Newcastle, is free for eligible participants referred by their GP practice.

Find out more here.