People in Bath and North East Somerset most at risk of developing type two diabetes are being encouraged to accept an invitation to a free course that could help prevent the condition.
Designed to help people eat well and get active, the Healthier You programme supports individuals over a nine-month period to reverse the early symptoms of diabetes.
Around 59,000 adults in Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire are at risk of developing type two diabetes and are eligible for the Healthier You programme.
Around 7,000 people from the area have taken up the invitation, but many are missing out on the opportunity to take part in the course.
Dr Ayoola Oyinloye, Consultant in Public Health Medicine, said: “It is extremely worrying that so many people are choosing to ignore this offer of free help.
“Type two diabetes is largely preventable, and this programme gives people most at risk the power to take back control of their own health and make the changes that could add years to their life and life to their years.
“I’d encourage anybody with an invitation letter just sitting in a drawer or on a table not to ignore it, and to make today the day they take a step towards a healthier lifestyle by picking up the phone and make the call to participate”
The call to action is being made to coincide with Diabetes Prevention Week, which runs between Monday 1st and Sunday 7th April.
Type two diabetes is a condition that causes the level of sugar in a person’s blood to become too high.
If left untreated, it can lead to other significant health problems, some of which can cause a threat to life, such as heart and kidney disease. It can also lead to disabling conditions such as blindness and amputations.
Janet Tooze, 68, took part in the Healthier You: Diabetes Prevention Programme after speaking with her GP about her high blood sugar levels.
She said: “It was a gradual education of what was right and what was wrong, and how to make the correct choices.
“But it was done in such a way that made you really want to do it, and now I’ve lost more than a stone and people keep telling me how great I’m looking.
“I keep telling others about it. I know lots of people who have got the letter and ignored it, but it really isn’t something that should be ignored.”
Each Healthier You: Diabetes Prevention Programme group can provide support for groups of up to 25 people, all of whom are over 18 and not yet diagnosed with diabetes.
People can check for themselves if they fall into the at-risk category by using the online Know Your Risk tool, which can be found at www.diabetes.org.uk.
Although patients cannot self-refer on to the programme, more information can be found by talking to a GP or visiting www.nhs.uk.