Lifestyle warning as Northern Ireland diabetes cases up 70% in 12 years

Lifestyle warning as Northern Ireland diabetes cases up 70% in 12 years

Lifestyle warning as Northern Ireland diabetes cases up 70% in 12 years.

The number of people with diabetes in Northern Ireland has increased by nearly 70% in just over a decade

The number of people with diabetes in Northern Ireland has increased by nearly 70% in just over a decade.

Around 96,000 are now living with the disease here, figures reveal.

The shocking rise in cases emerged as health officials launched a new programme to tackle the increasing prevalence of Type 2 diabetes, which accounts for 90% of all cases.

Many people will be unaware they are living with the disease, experts say.

They estimate three in every five cases can be prevented if people improve their lifestyle.

Figures show the number of people on the diabetes register has increased by 69.3% since 2007, when it totalled 56,924.

Type 2 diabetes is a common but serious condition that causes the level of sugar (glucose) in the blood to become too high.

It can cause preventable sight loss in working age people, is a major contributor to kidney failure, heart attack, stroke and even amputation, and can lead to early loss of life.

Yet the illness is often preventable by adopting healthier lifestyle changes.

The new Diabetes Prevention Programme is aimed at people who have been identified as pre-diabetic – those who have been tested and have a blood sugar level slightly above the normal range – by their nurse, pharmacist or doctor.

Trudy Brown, regional type 2 diabetes prevention programme manager at the Public Health Agency, said: “Often, by making simple changes to lifestyle, losing weight, adopting a healthier diet and increasing physical activity, people can alter a Type 2 diabetes diagnosis or at least postpone it significantly.

Margaret McAllister (62), who is a participant on the Newtownards programme, discovered she was pre-diabetic via a routine blood test.

She said: “Being diagnosed as pre-diabetic was a shock but also an important warning call. I was then given an opportunity to take part in the Diabetes Prevention Programme.

“The facilitators offer advice and support to help you make changes to your lifestyle and I quickly realised I was eating all the wrong foods and also too much of them.

“I’m six weeks into the programme and I’ve already lost a stone.. I’m feeling better, my concentration levels have heightened and I feel fitter and well. I would urge everyone to go on the programme. It literally has changed my life.”

Dr David Chaney, Diabetes UK assistant director for local impact, said: “We only have to look at the startling yearly increase in the number of people being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes to know that we cannot ignore this very serious condition.

“We know that three in five cases of Type 2 diabetes can be prevented or delayed by eating well, being active and achieving a healthy weight, so there is hope for the future.

“The more we know about diabetes the better we can fight it together, so find out if you are at risk and ask about your local Diabetes Prevention Programme.’

The Diabetes Prevention Programme is operating across all five trust areas. People can be referred by a nurse, pharmacist or doctor.

The programme is delivered free over a nine-month period.

Mr Chaney added: “It is facilitated by health coaches who offer assistance to participants, helping them change their lifestyle, diet and physical activity with the aim of postponing and even preventing Type 2 diabetes.”

Diabetes is the UK’s fastest growing health crisis, with the number of sufferers doubling in 20 years from 1.9m to 3.7m. A million more are estimated to be unaware they are living with the condition.

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Lifestyle warning as Northern Ireland diabetes cases up 70% in 12 years.

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