Somerset residents can now take advantage of a free weight loss programme aimed at tackling diabetes.

This year it was revealed that Somerset is a 'diabetes hotspot' in research carried out by the charity Diabetes UK, which showed the county had the highest rates of the disease in the south west.

Now the county's public health leaders are encouraging residents to engage with with the NHS' new 'path to remission' plan.

The programme lasts for 12 months during which time participants will receive support from trained coaches , and receive three months of free meal replacement foods.

So far the average participant in Somerset has lost 14 per cent of their starting weight six months on from starting with the programme.

Stan, a Somerset resident now coming to the end of the programme, has lost 20 kilograms. He said:

"This programme consisted of free advice, free support, and free food, so it was always going to be a winner! I was gobsmacked with the results – I couldn’t quite believe how well this programme was working for me."

Councillor Adam Dance, Lead Member for Public Health, Equalities and Diversity at Somerset Council, said:

"Type 2 diabetes is a serious condition which is shortening and reducing the quality of life for a large number of Somerset residents.

"We know that Diabetes is a condition that can be treated very effectively, through evidence-based programmes like this but also with lifestyle changes that can be made at home such as moving more and adopting a healthier diet.

"By eating healthily, moving more and losing weight, the risk of developing type 2 diabetes can be reduced by about 50 per cent."

Dr Henk Bruggers, GP Partner with NHS Somerset added:

"We must not be complacent about this disease – with the right support, remission is possible. This NHS remission programme is evidence-based and available to those who meet the criteria in Somerset.

"It is a fantastic programme, and I would urge those who think they might be eligible to find out more and contact their GP practice for a referral."

Find further information at the scheme provider's website.