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Universities of Leicester and Cambridge spearhead one of UK's biggest diabetes prevention programmes

Posted on 08/02/2012
University of Leicester

Universities of Leicester and Cambridge spearhead one of UK\'s biggest diabetes prevention programmes

A group of University of Leicester researchers has received a £1.9 million grant to undertake one of the largest scale diabetes prevention programmes in the UK.

The study, called the Prevention of Diabetes Through Physical Activity Education With Different Levels of Ongoing Support (PROPELS), aims to provide information to the NHS to help reduce the number of people who develop type 2 diabetes in the future.

The University's Diabetes Research Team will use a grant from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Health Technology Assessment programme to assess the benefits of a long-term diabetes prevention method called structured education.

A spokesperson for The NIHR Health Technology Assessment (HTA) programme said: “The NIHR HTA programme identifies the most important questions that the NHS needs answers to through wide consultation and have highlighted this area as being of national importance”.

This approach involves encouraging people at risk of developing type 2 diabetes to engage in physical activity – which has been shown to lower blood glucose levels over one to two years.

Professor Kamlesh Khunti, Professor Melanie Davies and Dr Tom Yates, of the Departments of Health Sciences and Cardiovascular Sciences, are collaborating with researchers at the University of Cambridge and the MRC to test whether this approach is effective among participants across Leicester and Cambridge.

After participants have received the education programme, the study will compare the effect of low and high intensity support on long-term behaviour change.

Professor Khunti said: “Type 2 diabetes is an increasingly common, chronic condition affecting 6 million people in the UK. Type 2 diabetes costs the NHS over £10 billion annually. Many cases of type 2 diabetes are preventable through changes to lifestyle, such as increasing physical activity.

“There is very little data on how long-term education programmes can reduce type 2 diabetes. We hope to explore how much ongoing support is needed to sustain behaviour change in people at high risk of developing diabetes.

“Our application was helped by the fact our team has international expertise in this area and in particular prevention of diabetes in people of south Asian origin who are at high risk of developing diabetes.

“It was very much good news for us to be given the grant - in particular for Leicester as a community and for the university.”