Thousands more people in England with type 2 diabetes will be offered the chance to try a soup-and-shake diet weight-loss plan for free on the NHS.
Studies show switching to the low-calorie liquid diet can put diabetes into remission.
Experts say they want to help people to be as fit as possible, particularly during the coronavirus pandemic.
Obesity and type 2 diabetes are linked and both increase the risk of complications from Covid-19.
Some NHS patients have already benefited from the year-long diet and exercise plan, which is why NHS England wants to expand the scheme to more people.
People living with type 2 diabetes who are an unhealthy weight and have been diagnosed with the condition in the last six years will be considered for the scheme.
After a few months on the shakes and soups, when some weight loss has been achieved, solid foods are reintroduced, with support to help the person maintain a nutritious diet and regular exercise.
Results from one trial showed almost half of those who went on the diet achieved remission of their type 2 diabetes after one year.
What is type 2 diabetes?
- It is a common condition that causes the level of sugar (glucose) in the blood to become too high
- It is caused by problems with a chemical in the body (hormone) called insulin
- Symptoms of type 2 diabetes can include excessive thirst, needing to urinate a lot and tiredness
- It can increase the risk of getting serious problems with the eyes, heart and nerves
- Some cases are linked to being overweight
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that is not linked to being overweight.
Prof Jonathan Valabhji, NHS national clinical director for diabetes and obesity, said: “This is the latest example of how the NHS, through our Long Term Plan, is rapidly adopting the latest evidence-based treatments to help people stay well, maintain a healthy weight and avoid major diseases.
“There has never been a more important time to lose weight and put their type 2 diabetes into remission, so it’s good news for thousands of people across the country that practical, supportive measures like this are increasingly available on the NHS.”
Bev, who was one of the first patients to benefit from the diet during trials, said: “My goal for the first eight weeks of the low-calorie diet was to lose 5% of my body weight – which I achieved in six weeks – and in total I’ve lost over 10kg, my type 2 diabetes is now in remission and I no longer have to take any medication – I am over the moon.
“Since the low-calorie diet programme, my mindset has totally changed for the better and I look at food differently now – my shopping habits are far healthier and, when I eat out, I’ll go for a healthier option. The programme has taught me moderation.”