Margaret Wilson from Maidstone in Kent has raised a family and assisted with her husband’s accountancy business all of her working life. When two routine blood tests detected high sugar levels, Margaret recalled the health struggles her own mother faced with Type 2 diabetes and knew it all added up to requiring swift action.

“I had no symptoms or indications that there might be a problem and I try to keep fit after receiving treatment for breast cancer a few years ago,” explains 63 year-old Margaret. “I regularly attend pilates and yoga classes and enjoy walking but knowing that my mother was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes at about the same age as I am now, meant that my blood tests were a clear warning to change my eating habits.”

Margaret’s GP referred her to Healthier You: NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme, the first nationwide programme of its kind in the world. The initiative helps people at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes to become more physically active and maintain a healthy diet and weight.

Healthier You is delivered in the South by Ingeus. In partnership with Leicester Diabetes Centre and local health services, Ingeus designs and delivers personalised prevention services to patients like Margaret.

After initially attending weekly sessions with Ingeus tutor Michael Hughes at Maidstone YMCA Centre, Margaret now attends monthly classes with a group of fellow patients. The programme runs for 10 months and covers all aspects of understanding and preventing Type 2 diabetes.

“It’s a small, really friendly group of people and it’s been great to talk to others in the same situation as me, to share tips and ideas,” continues Margaret. “We cover a different topic each time, keep a food diary and do a weigh-in to ensure we’re all on track.

“The course has already made me much more aware of what to eat and in what quantities and it’s reassuring to know that I’m supported for 10 months while I make these important life changes. This isn’t a diet or short-term health-kick; I need to maintain what I’m learning going forward.”

Tutor Michael Hughes couldn’t agree more: “We aim to give patients the knowledge and practical support to make lasting changes to their health,” said Michael. “More than three million people in England already have Type 2 diabetes and that number is rising rapidly. Yet the illness is largely preventable.

“The clinical network of NHS professionals and other specialists that we’re working with are now making great strides in educating the public on the dangers of Type 2 diabetes. Margaret and her fellow group members are doing wonderfully well, embracing the programme and all that it’s teaching them.”

Healthier You: NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme is a joint commitment from NHS England, Public Health England and Diabetes UK. Diabetes currently accounts for around 10% of the annual NHS budget; nearly £10 billion a year.