New Programme Transforms the Life of Diabetes Patients

Big successes in weight management for patients with diabetes have been reported by community dietitians in NHS Forth Valley. A pilot project has seen individual patients shed up to three stones, blood glucose levels dramatically reduced, and in some cases a reduction in prescribed drugs.

Anne Clarke, NHS Forth Valley’s Community Dietitian and Weight Management Project Lead said: “We are very encouraged by the results. Our patients have told us that this programme has completely changed their lives and increased their confidence. We have also been able to reduce the amount of drugs some patients are taking and this has helped to improve their wellbeing.

NHS Forth Valley CommunityDietitian Lesley Hetherington, who helps deliver the programme, added: “Patients have been very enthusiastic about being on this programme. They have done really well as it’s not always easy to lose lots of weight and embarking on a long-term approach needs a lot of commitment.”

The dietitians believe the secret of their success is supporting people for up to a year after the first tranche of weight loss. They say the biggest problems patients experience is keeping weight off. Many worry that once food is re-introduced they will return to their old habits of over-eating.

The weight loss programme, Counterweight Plus, available on the NHS, is aimed at people with a BMI greater than 40 and a study claimed it offers a safer, more cost-effective remedy than gastric band surgery.

Researchers at the University of Glasgow looked at statistics from 22 general practices in Scotland where 91 severely-obese patients were put on the programme – an 810 kcal per day low-energy liquid diet with carefully designed food re-introduction and weight-loss maintenance plans.

Professor Mike Lean, a human nutrition expert in the School of Medicine, said: “It is believed that a 15 kg weight loss – equivalent to two and a half stones – is enough to reverse most cases of type 2 diabetes if it is achieved soon after diagnosis. This approaches the levels achieved by gastric band surgery but is much cheaper and safer than surgery.

“It is also much more accessible as weight loss surgery is only available for a tiny number of patients.”