Type 2 diabetes ‘urgent public health crisis’ in WalesDan Kamashu
Type 2 diabetes ‘urgent public health crisis’ in Wales
There has been a rise in both type 1 and type 2 diabetes in Wales
Type 2 diabetes is “the urgent public health crisis in Wales”, it has been claimed, as the number of people with the disease increases.
There has been a 2.2% rise in all diabetes cases since last year, with 198,883 sufferers – a prevalence of 7.6% in Wales, the highest in the UK.
Diabetes UK Cymru said Wales was the only UK country without a diabetes prevention programme.
The Welsh Government said it was taking action to reverse the trend.
Source: Statistics Wales/NHS England, 2019
The rate of adults with diabetes in Wales has been rising steadily – and above the increasing prevalence rate in England.
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Dai Williams, national director at charity Diabetes UK Cymru, said a comprehensive diabetes prevention plan was “vital if we as a nation are going to beat this public health crisis”.
He wants the Welsh Government to lead an all-Wales approach to tackle problems by getting people at risk of developing type 2 disease to make lifestyle changes before it affects their health, as has happened in England with its NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme.
“The only way to solve it is by decisive action and leadership from Welsh Government,” he said.
“Wales is the only country in the UK without a diabetes prevention programme.”
What is diabetes?
All forms of diabetes have one thing in common – too much sugar, or glucose – in the blood stream.
The levels of glucose are normally controlled by the hormone insulin, which is produced by the pancreas.
There are two main types:
- Type 1 can develop at any age, but often begins in childhood. It is not related to diet or lifestyle
- Type 2 is far more common than type 1, it is usually seen in adults and is often associated with obesity, although there are other factors
Without treatment and management, diabetes can have long-lasting health impacts – including life-threatening conditions.
It can lead to eye problems, foot problems, kidney issues, increased heart attack and stroke risks, and nerve damage.
Source: Diabetes UK
Mr Williams said the Welsh Government’s obesity strategy, Healthy Weight, Healthy Wales, was a “first step in tracking the growing problem of obesity in Wales”.
“Mandating industry to make food and drinks healthier and addressing the marketing and promotion of unhealthy foods” could also help, he added.
“At the same time, we need to help people understand their personal risk of type 2 diabetes and provide specialist clinical support to reduce it.”
The Welsh Government, which published a four year plan in 2016 to tackle diabetes, said: “We have adopted a whole-system approach to encouraging healthier lifestyles and helping reverse the trend of people developing type 2 diabetes.
“The actions we will be taking to achieve positive changes have prevention at their core and include funding health boards and partners to develop a range of obesity support services.”
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