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Over 35 with high blood pressure? There’s a free programme to help you manage your weight and stay healthy.

The NHS is funding a free health programme to support 200,000 people every year in making positive changes to their diet, weight (if appropriate) and physical activity habits. Named ‘Healthier You’, the programme is the government’s response to a growing diabetes crisis in the UK where 3.7 million people are diagnosed with the lifelong condition; a figure that has doubled over the last 20 years.

Although awareness is growing, many people do not realise that they are at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. Individuals with high blood pressure, those who are overweight and people who have family history of diabetes all have an increased risk, along with those from Chinese, South Asian, African-Carribbean or Black-African ethnic backgrounds.

Click here to know your risk and see if you're eligible.

Type 2 diabetes develops when the body doesn’t respond normally to its own insulin and/or does not produce enough insulin. Although there is a genetic component, the risk of developing the condition is strongly linked to a number of lifestyle factors including high blood pressure, obesity, not enough physical activity and poor diet.

The combination of high blood pressure and Type 2 diabetes can be lethal as it significantly increases the chance of having a heart attack or stroke.

Diabetes is also a major contributor to many other severe health issues such as vision loss and kidney failure. Furtherore, the risk of COVID-19 related in-hospital death is double by Type 2 diabetes. Left untreated, diabetes-related health conditions will get progressively worse, but early diagnosis can help reduce the risk of developing complications later on.

Unlike Type 1 diabetes, more than half of Type 2 diabetes cases are actually preventable. While some risk factors, such as genetics and ethnicity, cannot be altered, positive lifestyle changes have been proven to prevent or delay the onset of diabetes. Lowered blood pressure, weight loss (in appropriate), increased physical activity and a better diet can all help decrease the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.

The NHS-funded Healthier You programme will provide support to thousands of people at moderate and high risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.

At-risk individuals can either be referred to the programme by their GP or nurse, or they can self-refer if they score moderate or high on the risk assessment on the Healthier You website.

Once an individual has been referred to the programme, they will be invited to attend online group sessions with a trained Health Educator on times and dates suitable to them. They will receive support and guidance on reducing their risk of developing Type 2 diabetes through eating healthy, managing their weight, lowering their blood pressure and being more active.

What people are saying “it was very very helpful I’ve learned so much”

Working closely with an educator, participants will develop a personalised action plan to help them reach their health goals sustainably. Completely free, the programme is offered over telephone or group video conference, or online through apps and websites.

Try the online risk assessment tool to see if you are at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. Act now and secure a healthier future for yourself.

It might be the most important thing you do today.

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