Healthcare providers, government and the food and drinks industry all have a role to play in reducing the growing crisis of type 2 diabetes in the UK, it is claimed.
There should be clearer targets for supermarkets and manufacturers to reduce the fat, sugar and salt content of food and drinks, according to Dr Onkar Sahota, chairman of the health committee of London’s local government.
He explained that in London there has been an estimated 75% increase in type 2 diabetes over the last decade which means that the number of cases in London is growing quicker than elsewhere in the country.
Indeed, overall five million more people in the UK are expected to be living with diabetes within the next 10 years and 850,000 people nationally are estimated to have the condition, but have not been formally diagnosed.
A new report for the London Assembly Health Committee; ‘Blood Sugar Rush – Diabetes Time Bomb in London’ shows that people of Afro-Caribbean descent are three times more likely to develop the condition than white people, with South Asians six times more likely than white people.
Dr Sahota says that it has lessons for cities around the world as the reasons behind the rise in type 2 diabetes are largely the same.
The report recommends a reduction in fat, sugar and salt in all food and drink and says the government needs to take a lead as manufacturers are not going to take it on themselves without being given clear guidelines.
The report also says there is a need to develop common performance measures to assess how well care is being delivered and overall the rising obesity problem needs to be tackled which means drawing up public education programmes to raise awareness and improve detection rates.
‘Dealing with just the consequences of diabetes, and not what is causing it, will continue to consign as many as 750,000 Londoners to a life of trying to control an avoidable long term condition, costing the taxpayer over £10 billion a year,’ said Dr Sahota.
‘Healthcare providers and government have a role to play in reversing this growing crisis, as does the food and drink industry. We have to bring about the rapid reduction in the role sugar plays within the daily diet of Londoners, and the nation alike,’ he added.
Roz Rosenblatt, Diabetes UK’s London regional manager, welcomed the report, particularly its focus on the need for a ‘joined up’ approach to diabetes. ‘We are calling for action to be taken in all local authorities on obesity reduction, risk assessment and early diagnosis for those at risk of type 2 diabetes or living with the condition without knowing it,’ she said.
‘We have seen firsthand that when areas such as Tower Hamlets and Newham prioritise diabetes care, it is possible to have a real impact on the health of the people living in those areas. This needs to be happening in all boroughs across the capital, otherwise the people of London and the NHS will be in real danger,’ she added.
Dr Sahota also pointed out the difficulties families have in picking out nutritional meals and he believes that the government has a major role to play by encouraging large food producers to self-regulate the health of their produce.
He also calls for healthy foods, particularly vegetables and fresh fruit to be more affordable for families and those on lower incomes. Another area for action is food advertising which focuses on readymade meals and processed foods and not on home cooking.
The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of the DiabetesForum.com Community and should not be interpreted as medical advice. Please see your doctor before making any changes to your diabetes management plan.