Diabetes is estimated to cost the NHS £10 billion a year, while almost one in 20 prescriptions written by GPs is for diabetes treatment.

Obesity, and Type 2 diabetes are two of the biggest risk factors in Covid-19 deaths. Those with Type 2 diabetes have twice the risk of dying from coronavirus, NHS research shows. 

And a US study last week found those who are obese are are 113 per cent more likely to be admitted to hospital with coronavirus and 74 per cent more likely to need intensive care treatment.

Prof Jonathan Valabhji, NHS national clinical director for diabetes and obesity, said: “This is the latest example of how the NHS, through our Long-Term Plan, is rapidly adopting the latest evidence-based treatments to help people stay well, maintain a healthy weight and avoid major diseases.

“There has never been a more important time to lose weight and put their Type 2 diabetes into remission.”

It came as a study of almost half a million people by Cambridge University suggested most cases of the condition could be prevented or reversed, if BMI is reduced below the threshold which triggers blood sugar changes. 

The levels vary for individuals, meaning that some people with a healthy weight will develop the condition while others who are overweight do not.

Lead researcher Prof Brian Ference said: “When people cross a certain BMI threshold, their chances of diabetes go up and stay at that same high-risk level regardless of how long they are overweight.”

“You can prevent most cases of diabetes by keeping BMI below a person’s threshold,” he said. 

“We can also probably reverse most cases of diabetes if we lower somebody’s BMI aggressively below their BMI threshold relatively soon after they develop diabetes.”

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