A Leicestershire man who witnessed his father lose his sight with Type 2 diabetes has vowed to turn his life around after being told he, too, could be at risk of developing the condition.

Chris Davidson from Desford says it is never too late to make vital lifestyle changes. The 69-year-old adds, “Your health is so important, so when I was told that I could be at risk I was offered the chance to go on the diabetes prevention programme. My father had Type 2 diabetes, which went untreated, and I saw what it did to him. He went blind and had heart disease and I am determined to avoid this.”

The retired mental health worker and trainer was referred to the Healthier You: NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme. The initiative, which started in the East Midlands in July 2016, will eventually be rolled out nationally. NHS England is funding this structured education programme to help people prevent or postpone developing Type 2 diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes is one of the UK’s biggest health challenges – there are currently 4.5 million people in the UK who have diabetes, mainly Type 2, but that could rise to 5 million if the problem is not tackled, Public Health England recently say. More than 2,000 people have already been referred onto the educational programme, where participants receive tailored support to help them make positive changes to their diet, weight and the amount of physical activity they undertake.

“I find it very helpful to talk to others in the group and share my experiences with them – and learn from their experiences, too. My body mass index (BMI) places me in the overweight sector, and I am hoping to reduce this and put myself back into the normal range. For me, that means losing 7kgs – just over a stone - which is entirely possible.

“I’m already feeling the benefits of more exercise and eating better. It’s not hard – I just needed a nudge in the right direction.”

The East Midlands sessions are led by Amy Gouldstone from Ingeus. “It can be challenging to make changes to your unhealthy habits as you may have had them for many years, but the Healthier You programme has given people the confidence and inspiration to reduce their risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. The rewards are great and can lead to much healthier life.”