There are now 1,203 more people with diabetes in Suffolk than there were a year ago according to a new analysis by Diabetes UK.
The analysis shows that 46,678 people in Suffolk are now thought to have diabetes, which has gone up from 45,475 in 2012. This means that 7.6 per cent of people in the area are now thought to have the condition, and Diabetes UK has warned that this proportion is expected to rise further over the next few years.
It is projected that 8.3 per cent of people in Suffolk will have diabetes by 2020, a rise that is expected to comprise mainly of new cases of Type 2 diabetes, which already accounts for about 90 per cent of diabetes cases nationally. Risk factors for Type 2 include being overweight; having a large waist; being over 40, or over 25 if you are from South Asian background; or having a close family member with diabetes.
Diabetes UK has responded to news of the increase by urging people in Suffolk to make sure they know the risk factors for Type 2 diabetes and have their risk assessed if any of these apply to them. People can do this at a Tesco pharmacy, their GP surgery, or online at www.diabetes.org.uk/risk and a risk assessment can act as the start of the process of people reducing their risk; about 80 per cent of cases of Type 2 could be delayed or prevented through making healthy lifestyle changes.
The charity is also concerned that many people wrongly think diabetes is a relatively mild condition and so do not see the need to find out more about their own risk, whereas in fact it can lead to devastating health complications such as blindness, amputation, stroke and heart attacks, and ultimately to early death. This is why Diabetes UK has been running a hard-hitting advertising campaign, which is funded by the charity’s National Charity Partnership with Tesco, to highlight the possible consequences of having Type 2 diabetes, including the devastating impact it can have on people’s families.
Sharon Roberts, Diabetes UK’s regional manager for the Eastern region, said, “It is alarming that the number of people with diabetes in Suffolk has gone up by 1,203 in a single year and addressing this situation needs to be one of the top health priorities in the area. Given that the increase in diabetes cases is mainly due to a sharp rise in Type 2 diabetes, we need to get much better at preventing cases of Type 2.
“A vital first step towards this is to ensure both that people realise how serious it is and also that they understand their own personal risk so that if they are at high risk they can make the lifestyle changes that can help prevent it.
“This is why we need to raise awareness that if people are over 40, overweight, have a large waist, or have a family history of diabetes, they need to get a risk assessment, as should people from who are South Asian and aged over 25.
“I know that we all have busy lives and that thinking about future health can be uncomfortable, but it is only if people in Suffolk grasp the nettle and get their risk assessed that we can start to bring the rise in diabetes in the area to an end.”
While most cases of Type 2 diabetes can be prevented or delayed through lifestyle, about 10 per cent of cases are Type 1 diabetes, which tends to occur in younger people and is not linked to lifestyle or weight at all.