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Thousands of NHS patients to get free fitness trackers

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Thousands of people at risk of Type 2 diabetes will be given digital support – including free fitness trackers – to prevent them from developing the condition.

The initiative forms part of the NHS Long Term Plan and follows a successful pilot scheme, which showed that engaging people digitally significantly boosted the number of people taking up the NHS' flagship Diabetes Prevention Programme (DPP).

Almost seven in 10 people (68 per cent) referred to digital schemes took part – compared with around half of those who were offered face-to-face support.

As a result, up to a fifth of the places on the DPP, around 40,000 a year, will now be delivered digitally.

Launched in 2016, the DPP is an NHS England-funded programme supported by Public Health England and Diabetes UK.

Targeting those at a high risk of developing type 2 diabetes, people referred onto the programme get tailored, personalised help – including advice on healthy eating, physical exercise and managing weight.

As well as free fitness trackers, those taking part in DPP will be offered apps which allow users to access health coaches and educational content, online peer support groups and the ability to set and monitor goals electronically.

“We are breaking new ground to help those most at risk of type 2 diabetes to literally take their health into their own hands at their own time and pace," said Dr Jennifer Smith, diabetes programme director at Public Health England.

"Many of us use on-the-go digital technology every day and this is a fabulous next step in diabetes prevention.”

Diabetes is one of the greatest public health problems facing the NHS and country, with almost four million people in England having Type 2.

One in six hospital beds in England are occupied by someone with Type 2 diabetes, which leads to more than 9,000 amputations each year and the NHS spends more than £6bn annually treating the condition and its complications.

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Thousands of people at risk of Type 2 diabetes will be given digital support – including free fitness trackers – to prevent them developing the condition.
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