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Prescribing Advice for GPs

An NHS Prescribing Advisers' Blog

Lifestyle advice overlooked in diabetes?

Diabetes UK has published the results of a study that indicates that approximately one third of patients diagnosed with type 2 diabetes are initiated on medication within a month of diagnosis. They suggest that this is being done "without giving healthy lifestyle changes a chance". This study was been reported in the general media (BBC).

The study of 652 patients diagnosed with type 2 diabetes within the last month found that 36% were prescribed medication. It was also noted that 13% were prescribed two drugs.

Current guidelines recommend a trial of lifestyle measures before drug treatments are initiated. Diabetes UK reinforces this view stating, "a healthy, balanced diet and doing physical activity should always be the foundation of good diabetes management".

This study may be limited by not correcting for initial assessment of individual patients ability or motivation to make lifestyle changes. It is also worth noting that, in England, patients who control their diabetes with lifestyle measures are not exempt from prescription charges while those who are prescribed medication get all prescriptions free of charge.

Action: Clinicians should continue to ensure that diabetes management regularly reinforces the importance of lifestyle measures including a healthy diet and exercise.

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