There are almost 4 million people who have been diagnosed with diabetes in the United Kingdom, according to the last figures released by NHS Digital and Diabetes UK. Even though medical techniques are improving, the number of diabetes cases is strongly increasing. Diabetes UK predicted in its reports that if nothing changes, more than five million people will have diabetes by 2025.
The last statistics include men and women who are over 17 years old and have type 1 or 2 diabetes. England is the area with the biggest percentage of people suffering from this disease among the UK, in this country the number has increased by almost one million in just 7 years.
Even though type 2 diabetes is the most frequent in adults, a great percentage of children seem to suffer from type 1 diabetes as well. While oldness can be one of the causes for the type 2 diabetes, the first one is not related to diet, age or lifestyle and there are no specific reasons for its appearance. However, according to the last report on minors with diabetes in 2010, teenagers from 10 to 14 years old are the largest age group living with this sickness.
On the other side, obesity is one of the main causes for type 2 diabetes, the Health at a Glance Report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development revealed indeed that the UK was the European country with the most concerning obese issue in 2017. Moreover, despite these alarming numbers last year the BBC reported that the number of fast food restaurants in the UK has increased by 34% from 2010, when its average was already high (47 fast food outlets per 100,000 people and in 2018 it rose to 61). The increases of diabetes and “junk” food restaurants seem to be related, as they have gone up at the same time. Moreover, the strong incidence that diabetes (both types) have in 10 to 14-year-old children should be another incentive to carry out the councils’ initiatives to limit the quantity of takeaways near schools.
Having a close family member with type 2 diabetes can be another cause for this disease, along with being inactive, as physical exercise lowers the blood sugar level, for this reason NHS recommends doing 2.5 hours of activity a week.
Many people do not realise to have this kind of diabetes as its symptoms do not affect massively their daily lives, however, beyond a lot of groups and medical centers that can give support, also technology is having a great impact on tackling diabetes. Raging from all the resources available online to have more information about this illness to even a type 2 diabetes self-assessment, there are also mobile-apps that simplify diabetes management.
The great prevalence of diabetes in the UK raises concern about a no-deal Brexit scenario. Either Diabetes UK and JDRF alarm the government about the urgency to have clear details in order to assure people that leaving the EU without a deal will not impact getting insulin and medicine supplies. However, insulin manufacturers and the ministerial statement in February seemed to have reassured the citizens.
Insulin supplies are indeed essential for diabetics and any delays can be extremely dangerous. Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas (a gland behind the stomach) that controls the amount of sugar in the blood, its main role is breaking down glucose to produce energy. People who suffer from type 1 diabetes need to inject in their bodies insulin, as their immune systems attack and destroy the cells that produce this hormone. The second type of diabetes requires only tablets as medications, as the insulin is not enough or the body’s cells do not react to it.
Despite the medical developments there are still a lot of requests from the 6,000 affected by diabetes in England. Firtsly, according to Diabetes UK report these voices still feel unrepresented by the mental health support given by the government, for this reason this organisation ask the NHS and Royal Colleges to work together to identify solutions for gaps in mental health support.
Moreover, all schools need to have a medical conditions policy published on their website that reports how children with diabetes will be supported. On twitter there are also similar appeals.
However, all the recent statistics and the worries about Brexit make even more urgent a change in the food and drink industry. As England is leaving Europe Diabetes UK asks indeed a mandatory traffic light labelling system, in order to make sure that consistent nutritional labelling is available to consumers at the point of purchase, in an easy to understand format.
Following the latest study which found that substantial numbers of young people are at risk of not only diabetes but also liver cancer and heart attacks, industries must have legislations that aim to protect and defend public health from the sugar, salt, calories and saturated fat levels in products that are cheap but unhealthy.