A pilot scheme developed by Guy's and St Thomas' foundation trust and evaluated by London South Bank University could help patients lose weight and manage their condition better.

Over the last two years, the 'diabetes on referral option to healthy exercise for adults' programme (Dorothea) has used£220,700 from Guy's and St Thomas' charity to encourage patients with the most common form of diabetes to do more physical activity.

Dorothea was designed to help people with diabetes who could face severe consequences - including losing limbs - unless they kept their weight under control.

The scheme aimed to integrate increased physical activity into patients' daily routine and offer proactive support.

The team built on patients' existing activities, such as walking and gardening, and invited them to take part in exercise classes and group walks. The idea was to make activities accessible and enjoyable.

Of 225 participants, 74 per cent completed the scheme - compared to just 20 per cent on previous schemes - with more than half increasing their physical activity.

The patients attended three consultations during the year. Follow-up calls were made a month after the first two consultations and three months before the last. By picking up the phone, we were able to talk through some of the factors that make physical activity difficult.

Findings are being taken up in schemes run in the London boroughs of Lambeth and Southwark. Another Guy's and St Thomas' study is working on how to improve such programmes.

Professor Ann Taket is professor of primary healthcare at London South Bank University, a.r.taket@lsbu.ac.uk