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We want a "practical offer" for pre-diabetics, says public health leader

Creating a public offer for people who are at risk of diabetes is a current aim for Public Health England (PHE), as well as reducing the sugar intake of children, Duncan Selbie, the body's chief executive stated at a conference in Coventry this morning.

Selbie said, at the PHE annual conference, that the aim is to create "a practical offer for people who are pre-diabetic, based on the best evidence about what works, about exercise and diet, and we're piloting that at the moment with the object of rolling that out" to "help a number of people avoid becoming diabetic."

"Prevention is becoming part of our narrative," Duncan Selbie said, describing this as "game-changing," speaking at the PHE annual conference.

Last month PHE said that its latest, and most accurate analysis so far, shows around five million adults in England are now pre-diabetic, have non-diabetic hyperglycaemia, and are at risk of developing type-2 diabetes.

In terms of future care, Selbie said today that the "most exciting thing" was the government's stance on improving children's health, and their acceptance of the scientific advice from the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) report on sugar.

This report was published in June 2014 and stated that free sugars (those added to food or those naturally present in honey, syrups and unsweetened fruit juices) should account for no more than 5% of children's daily dietary energy intake.

He branded government's agreement on the recommendation "a very important moment, because it legitimises a whole range of other things that we can now take forward".

"Our teenagers are taking in three times more sugar than is good for them, in fact all of you are too. I was witnes to it last night, I was on pudding duty," he told the audience of health professionals.

He spoke of the shared objective and "unifying" aim of government, NHS England and Public Health England to improve children's health.

"We've got this moment to have a wonderful focus on what we can do to help mums and dads, and families, and children, and young people bring down the amount of sugar they've got in their diet. We've done it before, we can do it again."