Healthy ageing

New life, New you

Diabetes is a common, progressive disease with eye, kidney, nerve and cardiovascular complications, and reduced life expectancy. There are two main types of diabetes and in UK adults 90% of diabetes is type 2, which is potentially preventable. Increased physical activity, a healthy diet and achieving and maintaining a healthy weight reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes, but it is difficult for people to make these lifestyle changes.

Research evidence has shown that lifestyle change interventions can prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes with the preventive benefit lasting over 10 years. Now the challenge is to adapt these lifestyle-change programmes to make them suitable for mainstream service provision.

Fuse researchers based at Newcastle University developed a novel intervention for type 2 diabetes prevention called ‘New life, New you’. The intervention is designed to be delivered by health and fitness trainers in leisure and community settings. It was developed in Middlesbrough where it has now been commissioned for mainstream service provision. Researchers used social marketing strategies, with focus group discussions and creative sessions with participants and fitness trainers, to design the engaging intervention. Evaluation was embedded from the start.

In a feasibility study, ‘New life, New you’ was delivered as a 10 week course of physical activity sessions each lasting one hour and followed by a half-hour of reflection, counselling and advice, with use of behaviour change techniques. People were recruited to the programme following an individual diabetes risk assessment. The activity sessions were delivered to groups of 15 to 20 people. Preferences, for single sex classes or particular activities were incorporated. Occasionally a cookery session was used to introduce healthy eating advice. There were regular newsletters, with information and recipes, ongoing support with text messages, extra ‘drop-in’ sessions and a 12 month, free ‘access to leisure’ card. People were encouraged to join available local activities.

Sixty-seven men and 151 women aged 40 to 65 years old and at risk of type 2 diabetes joined the study, with participants describing the programme as enjoyable and sociable. 64% of men and 60% of women completed 12 months of follow-up with a reduction in weight and waist circumference, and an increased level in physical activity. The physical activity increase included gym workouts, swimming, walking, running, badminton and aqua-fit.  Dietary changes included increased daily portions of fruit and vegetables. Only two participants were from an ethnic minority background. A feasibility study of a culturally adapted version of ‘New life, New you’ is now in progress.

For more information, please contact:
Linda Penn, email:

Last modified: Tue, 12 Mar 2019 15:51:04 GMT