December 10 2013 Latest news:
By KIM BRISCOE, Health correspondent
Monday, September 3, 2012
A landmark Norfolk research study which could hold the key to reducing the number of people with type 2 diabetes has been up and running for a year – with participants saying it is changing their lives for the better.
Three years ago a routine blood test showed that Sandra Francis had higher than normal glucose levels.
The 66-year-old, from Ashmanhaugh, said: “I didn’t know much about what ‘pre-diabetes’ meant so I went away and Googled it. That was when I realised I had to do something about it.” Mrs Francis has had six group sessions, every two weeks, covering diet, lifestyle and exercise, and is now meeting up with the group every eight weeks.
She has found that making small alterations to her diet here and there have added up to helping her to lose weight, but more importantly it has brought her glucose levels back down to normal. From switching to skimmed milk from semi-skimmed, to halving the amount of meat and adding lentils, beans or pulses instead, the changes have helped her to lose a stone since she has been on the programme. She said: “I was already losing some weight but I had reached a block and just couldn’t lose any more. I’d been at that stage before and just lapsed but being on the study meant I have been able to carry on losing weight.
“The food information has been so useful and we have such a lovely group and are all supportive. If we pick up any tips then we swap them and recipes. One of the men in our group admitted he had never read a food label before, but it doesn’t mean you have to read labels for the rest of your life. Once you are in to it and know what’s good for you and what isn’t then it’s easy.
“I’ve got to keep it up but I’m quite happy with my new lifestyle – it isn’t a chore. My friend had the same thing and she became diabetic, but said if she had known she would have done what I’m doing.”
She added: “It’s impossible to say how I would have been without it but I feel a lot better for being a part of the programme. I perhaps already knew what I ought to be doing but the motivation and support has helped me to actually do it.”
The Norfolk Diabetes Prevention Study has already screened nearly 3,000 people who are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes, but needs to screen 10,000 in total and researchers are appealing for people to take part.
The £2.2m research study, funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), is being run by the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital and the University of East Anglia.
Participants who volunteer undergo a simple blood test to check the level of glucose in their blood.
Higher than normal glucose (known as Impaired Fasting Glucose or IFG) could mean they are in a “pre-diabetes” phase and are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes.
Most participants are expected to have normal blood glucose levels and will not be eligible to enter the study, but three to 10pc (depending on age and weight) will have pre-diabetes and will then be offered the chance to take part in a research trial to see if changes to their lifestyle can help reduce the risk of them developing type 2 diabetes.
This could include getting additional support from people who have diabetes, as well as receiving sessions covering topics such as diet and exercise to see if positive changes to their lifestyle can make a difference.
It is estimated that by 2030 there will be 75,709 people with diagnosed or undiagnosed diabetes in the NHS Norfolk area.
Study chief investigator Professor Mike Sampson said: “This study holds a lot of promise for one of the major public health challenges of our time. The cost of diabetes care to the NHS is rising rapidly and if we can demonstrate that an intervention programme can prevent people from developing the condition, the savings in terms of the human cost and the financial cost to the NHS will be substantial.”
Nikki Murray, a senior researcher on the study, said: “Diabetes is a life-long chronic condition and if you don’t control it well you can have complications.
“People on the study are in a privileged position to be able to avoid it.”
Screening and interventions are proposed to take place in locations in the north, south, east and west of Norfolk, as well as in Norwich.
Are you eligible to take part? Are you aged 40 years or over AND have at least one of the following:
Do you have a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or more?
A family history of type 2 diabetes?
A personal history of coronary heart disease?
Are you overweight?
Have you ever had diabetes during pregnancy?
Have you ever had impaired fasting glucose?
If so then you can register by calling 01603 597300 or online at www.norfolkdiabetespreventionstudy.nhs.uk