THOUSANDS of people across the district will be offered help to stop them developing Type 2 diabetes.

People deemed to be at risk will receive a letter from their GP practice offering them the chance to join a free, nine-month programme.

The Healthier You initiative will support participants to change their lifestyles.

Backing the venture is the NHS Airedale, Wharfedale and Craven Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), which is urging doctors' surgeries to get involved.

Dr James Thomas, the CCG's clinical chairman, said: "Across Airedale, Wharfedale and Craven, approximately 9,500 people are potentially at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.

"It's a more serious condition than people think, leading to complications such as heart disease if it is not well managed. Therefore, it is vital people get support as prevention is always better than the cure.

"We know that with earlier diagnosis, people should be able to prevent the long-term serious complications associated with Type 2 diabetes and it can even save their lives.

"I hope GP practices will support the Healthier You programme and encourage their patients to take-up the offer and join in.

"This programme will give people practical advice to help them make simple but effective lifestyle changes."

Two practices in Craven, Fisher Medical Practice and Dyneley House Surgery, have already written to their at-risk patients and more than 170 have signed-up.

And other surgeries are working with the CCG to look at offering the programme.

Antony Radley, practice business manager at Dyneley House, said: "Getting involved in the programme was really easy for us and I would encourage practices to get on board – all you have to do is identify people at risk and write to them.

"I attended a recent session and it was fantastic to see so many of our patients take advantage of the support.

"Everyone got involved and shared their stories of the barriers and challenges they face that may prevent them from living a healthy lifestyle.

"The programme has a real supportive environment and gives people an opportunity to meet others with similar experiences."

People referred to the scheme will receive personalised help including information about healthy eating and lifestyle changes, support to lose weight and a physical exercise programme.

Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body is not making sufficient insulin, or the insulin produced is not being used properly.

Every two minutes in the UK someone is diagnosed with diabetes, and 90 per cent of the diagnoses are for Type 2.

Across West Yorkshire, there are nearly 40,000 people at risk of developing the condition.

People who are overweight, aged 40 or over, or have a parent, brother or sister with diabetes, are more at risk.

Also, it is two to four times more likely in people of South Asian, African-Caribbean or Black African descent.

Anyone concerned about diabetes and wishing to be referred to the programme should contact their GP practice.

Further information about the condition can be found at