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What is the NHS soups and shakes diet?

Soups and shakes diet. (Getty Images)
The NHS soups and shakes diet is intended to help people in England who live with Type 2 diabetes be a healthy weight. (Getty Images)

Thousands of people with Type 2 diabetes across England are to benefit from the NHS soups and shakes diet, with new data proving its effectiveness at losing weight.

The life-changing programme – first tested in 2020 and currently available in 21 regions – will be expanded so it can provide access to patients in every part of the country.

It was last rolled out to 11 more regions in January 2022.

Read more: World Diabetes Day: Types 1 and 2 – symptoms, causes and prevention

The latest findings from the pilot show participants lost an average of more than 13kg (two stone) in three months, which was maintained for six months.

Plus, by the end of the year long programme, people had lost 11kg on average (more than 1.5 stone). Weight loss was similar to what was seen in clinical trials, suggesting the programme might lead to remission of up to half of people with type 2 diabetes.

Remission is when your blood sugar levels (also known as blood glucose levels) go below the diabetes range.

The expansion also follows the latest research from the Diabetes UK-funded Remission Clinical Trial (DiRECT) which showed that losing weight can put Type 2 diabetes in remission for at least five years in some people.

"Research is clear that weight loss where indicated goes a long way to helping people stay well and avoiding preventable illness, and in many cases it can be the trigger for putting Type 2 diabetes into remission," says Professor Jonathan Valabhji, NHS national clinical director for diabetes and obesity.

assorted bowl of soup (Getty Images)
The diet will add up to around 900 calories per day, for up to 12 weeks. (Getty Images)

What is the soups and shakes diet and who is eligible?

The programme starts off with low calorie, total meal replacement products like shakes and soups for the first three months, supported and monitored by expert clinicians and coaches, according to NHS England.

Then, a carefully managed plan reintroduces healthy, nutritious foods. Participants can track their progress through one-to-ones, group sessions and digital support, all to help them maintain a healthier weight.

Patients can benefit from the programme if they have been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in the last six years, with referrals made by local GPs.

The programme was extended last year to North East and North Cumbria, West Yorkshire, Lancashire and South Cumbria, Nottingham and Nottinghamshire, Black Country, Somerset, Bristol, north Somerset and south Gloucestershire, mid and south Essex, south west London, Kent and Medway and Sussex.

But it will soon be accessible for those eligible in the whole of England by March 2024.

Read more: Woman achieves 11st weight loss and reverses her diabetes after young death warning

Surgeon Female Doctor and physician team making video call for talking discussing and consulting together via internet wireless technology on laptop computer in meeting at medical room of a hospital
Participants taking part in the programme will receive support from clinicians and coaches. (Getty Images)

Diabetes remission

For people living with obesity, weight loss can lead to significant health benefits, including remission.

Commenting on the programme, health minister Neil O’Brien says, "This builds on the good work done by the NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme – which has helped over 18,000 people avoid this disease – and our upcoming Major Conditions Strategy, which will cover Type 2 diabetes and reduce pressure on the NHS."

It has had very real results for everyday people.

Ingo, who was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in May 2021, said: "I weighed 140kg and my waist was 126cm. Type 2 diabetes runs in my family and I knew I wanted to defeat my diagnosis as soon as possible. My GP recommended the NHS Type 2 Diabetes Path to Remission Programme.

“I was determined to put my Type 2 diabetes into remission, so I took the programme extremely seriously. During the total diet replacement phase, I followed all the advice given and was guided and motivated throughout; I had one shake every four hours, which gave me the perfect structure to work with and, as you begin to see the results, it is very rewarding.

"Making changes is difficult but the ongoing support makes it easier."

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On recently attending an annual check, Ingo was ecstatic with the results. Since their initial diagnosis, they have lost 47kg and are now 92kg, have lost 27cm from the waist and have reduced their HbA1c levels [The A1c (HbA1c) test measures the amount of blood sugar (glucose) attached to your haemoglobin]. 

"I have lost one third of my body weight and I now have a good relationship with myself and food. I don’t feel guilty if I have a treat, but I am always mindful about what I do eat. It has been an enormous change for me – and I have bought a whole new wardrobe of clothes."

Watch: Weight loss can put Type 2 diabetes in remission for 'at least five years'

“We are thrilled to see that NHS England’s Type 2 Diabetes Path to Remission Programme will be rolled out across the whole of England, giving thousands more people the chance to put their Type 2 diabetes into remission," says Chris Askew OBE, chief executive of Diabetes UK.

If you live in an area where the service is being delivered you will need to speak to your GP or diabetes team to find out whether it's suitable for you, or can find out more information about the here. Meanwhile, Diabetes UK's confidential helpline is 0345 123 2399.