Joint research project to screen Norfolk people for Diabetes

A ground-breaking UK research study into diabetes is being launched on World Diabetes Day by the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital and the University of East Anglia (UEA).

November 14 is the UN's World Diabetes Day and sees the launch of a new two-year research programme that will screen 6,000 volunteers living in Norfolk. Study participants will undergo a simple blood test to check the level of glucose in their blood. Higher than normal glucose (known as Impaired Fasting Glucose or IFG) could mean they are in a “pre-diabetes” phase and are more likely to develop Type 2 Diabetes.

A group of those at risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes will then be given help to improve diet and exercise levels in order to see if preventative changes to their lifestyle can help reduce the risk of them developing Type 2 Diabetes.

Diabetes is one of the biggest public health challenges facing the country and in England it is estimated 2 million people have the condition. About 80% of those with diabetes in England have Type 2 Diabetes. In Norfolk there are about 30,000 people with Diabetes and about 2,500 are newly diagnosed each year.

Type 2 Diabetes is most commonly diagnosed in adults over the age of 40, although increasingly it is appearing in young people and young adults. Glucose builds up in the blood, as in people with Type 1 Diabetes, but symptoms appear more gradually and the diabetes may not be diagnosed for some years.

The research programme, known as the UEA-IFG programme, will receive £800,000 worth of funding from the National Institute of Health Research over two years. The programme will be delivered by multi-professional teams from the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, and University of East Anglia.

On 3rd December, an Open Event is being held at Dunston Hall Hotel, near Norwich, to recruit 40 local people who already have Type 2 Diabetes and want to act as mentors (known as Type 2 Trainers) to the study volunteers who will undergo screening and help with diet and exercise. Presentations will be held at 4pm and 6.30pm. If people aged between 18-70 and who already have Type 2 Diabetes want to help they can attend the event at Dunston Hall Hotel, email or call 01603 597275.

How the UEA-IFG study will work: 

  • People living in central Norfolk and who are at risk of Type 2 Diabetes will be written to by their GP asking if they wish to volunteer for the screening programme. At risk means age 45-70, with a BMI of over 25, and a family history of diabetes.
  • Large local employers in Norfolk will also be approached with information for their staff and information in the media asking for eligible volunteers for the study
  • Over the course of the first year all 6,000 volunteers will make an appointment to undergo a simple fasting blood test at the Clinical Research and Trials Unit at UEA in Norwich or at Cromer Hospital.
  • All participants will receive their results by letter and most are expected to have normal blood glucose. Researchers expect that 11 per cent will be in the “pre-diabetes” phase and three per cent will be diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes.
  • After a repeat test to confirm the first set of results they will be asked by a Diabetes Prevention Facilitator, usually a senior nurse or nutritionist, if they want to take part in the lifestyle intervention.
  • Volunteers will then be randomly allocated to a control group or an intervention group where the aim will be for people to achieve seven per cent weight loss through a better diet and exercise. These volunteers will receive education from sports physiotherapists and nutritionists.

The role of the volunteer mentors who have Type 2 Diabetes will be to encourage and support study participants through the programme and to maintain diet and exercise targets.

Study chief investigator Professor Mike Sampson said: “We think this is an exciting study that holds a lot of promise for one of the big public health challenges of our time. The cost of diabetes care to the NHS is rising rapidly and if we can demonstrate that an interventional programme can help people from developing the condition, the savings in terms of the human cost, and the financial cost to the NHS will be substantial. We think that mass screening and intervention programmes to prevent diabetes could well benefit from having people with Type 2 Diabetes provide some of the training and support, and that it will be more efficient to deliver this in group training, so people can support each other.”

Study co-investigator Professor Ian Harvey, Dean of the UEA Faculty of Health, commented that this major project demonstrated the value to research of close collaboration between the University's Medical School and the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.

For more information please visit or phone 01603 597300

Friday 14th of November 2008 01:00:09 AM