Simple lifestyle changes, such as increased physical activity or eating more healthily, can prevent or delay type 2 diabetes, says NICE.
Diabetes is an epidemic of global proportions, with 360 million people worldwide currently thought to have the condition.
Nearly 3 million people have diabetes in the UK, which is set to rise to 5 million, nearly 10% of the population, by 2025.
The vast majority of people with diabetes have type 2 diabetes; a condition which can lead to serious complications such as blindness, kidney failure, lower limb amputations, cardiovascular disease and stroke.
It is estimated that around 850,000 people in the UK have undiagnosed type 2 diabetes, and 15% of the population are at high risk of developing the condition.
NICE's public health guidance on the prevention of type 2 diabetes aims to identify those at high risk in order to delay or prevent onset of the condition.
NICE says the following groups should be encouraged to have a risk assessment, so that they can be offered advice to help them prevent or delay developing the condition:
• all adults aged 40 and above (except pregnant women)
• those aged 25-39 and of South Asian, Chinese, African-Caribbean or Black African descent, and other high risk black and minority ethnic (BME) groups (except pregnant women) and
• adults with conditions that increase the risk of type 2 diabetes.
If a person is assessed as being at high risk, they should then contact their GP or practice nurse for a blood test to confirm their level of risk, discuss ways of reducing it, or whether they already have type 2 diabetes.
The guidance recommends two blood tests for confirmation of risk - fasting blood glucose levels, or importantly, HbA1c levels.
If a person has been confirmed at being of high risk through a blood test, then they should be offered a referral to a local evidence-based, quality assured lifestyle intervention programme.
These programmes are designed to offer practical and tailored advice, support and encouragement to help people become more physically active, maintain healthier weights and eat healthier diets.
Professor Mike Kelly, Director of the Centre for Public Health Excellence at NICE said: "Type 2 diabetes is a very large-scale problem and it is important for people to know that it is preventable, and there are simple steps that can be taken to help reduce the risk of developing the disease.
"This guidance will help people to identify their own personal risk and highlights that by losing weight, being more active and improving their diet, they can prevent or delay type 2 diabetes."
Jill Hill, Diabetes Nurse Consultant, Birmingham Community Healthcare Trust and member of the programme development group, added: "As a diabetes nurse, I have seen first-hand how the condition can affect a person's life.
"People may not be aware that diabetes is the most common cause of visual impairment and blindness, kidney failure and non-traumatic lower limb amputations.
"This guidance focuses on risk assessment and providing those at high risk with evidence-based, effective interventions that can delay or prevent this condition."
Professor Kamlesh Khunti, Professor of Primary Care, Diabetes and Vascular Medicine at the University of Leicester, and chair of the programme development group, said: “Type 2 diabetes is a serious problem in England, and it can be devastating for those affected.
"I was pleased to Chair the group which developed this guidance, which sets out clear, evidence- based recommendations that, if implemented, can help prevent the onset of this condition."
Click on the sound file above to hear a podcast with the Professor Khunti discussing the guidance, and click here for further information on type 2 diabetes and the new recommendations.