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Newly diagnosed teenagers struggle to manage diabetes

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Preventing type 2 diabetes by cutting obesity levels in teenagers is vital to ensuring that the health service is not put under further strain in the future, new research has shown.

A major US study found that a large proportion of teenagers who develop diabetes as a result of putting on too much weight struggle to control their condition, meaning that prevention of Type 2 diabetes in the first place is the most effective way of tackling the problem.

The research tested various ways of controlling blood sugar in teenagers newly diagnosed with the condition and found that almost half of them failed within a few years and a fifth of them suffered serious complications.

One of the study leaders, Dr Phil Zeitler of the University of Colorado Denver, said: “Don’t get diabetes in the first place.”

Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body cannot make enough insulin, which controls the amount of sugar in the blood. This is more likely to occur in teenagers who are overweight or obese.




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Readers' comments (1)

  • This news comes at a time when the spotlight is very much on the spiralling costs of treating diabetes both in children and adults. The scale of the cost of diabetes in the UK has been highlighted by recent statistics that showed that 80% of the NHS’s £9.8bn diabetes budget is used treating complications associated with the disease. The fact that many of the complications are caused by preventable problems highlights another issue entirely – and I’d suggest not one that is solved by simply “not getting diabetes in the first place”.

    With costs set to soar to £16.8bn by 2035 – a massive 17% of the entire NHS budget – it is paramount that we act now to reduce spend in whatever way possible, whilst improving the quality of life for the people who have to cope with this condition day to day.

    In an austere environment where the NHS is being challenged to improve quality whilst delivering efficiency, much can be done to improve the management of diabetes. Through the intelligent application of technology – both for the patient and the healthcare professional – some relief can be delivered in the form of information, early management, and control of T2 right from the onset of the condition leading to better patient outcomes and reduced cost.

    The latest national audit of childhood diabetes (2009/10) highlighted 96% of children and you people may not have received all the care processes recommended by NICE. The uncertainty of the claim with the emphasis on ‘may not’ rather that ‘have not’ arises from the inefficiencies of paediatric units in recording information that are predominantly still relying in paper-based reports which is not ideal or effective for data collection.

    To advance, services for diabetes – whether in secondary care or in the community setting – must be built upon joined-up and more accessible patient information. A structured electronic information record that gives HCPs across the local system real-time access to vital details of patients with diabetes will be critical for the on-going management of the condition. Shared data at the point of clinical care will not only significantly improve outcomes for patients, but can also play an important preventative role in helping ensure patients’ conditions are managed optimally. Moreover, in an environment plagued by a general lack of resources, the aggregation and interpretation of such information can prove invaluable in creating the evidence-base for the on-going funding of services

    The key to proactive management of T2 diabetes is ensuring patients get treated quickly and early on in their condition and by empowering patients to take an active role in its management within primary care, reducing the burden on secondary care.

    Ultimately, the information available to the patient and the HCP needs to be easily available, timely and presented in a user-friendly way, whilst also taking into account the way children behave. Connecting the patient care record from GP through primary and secondary care and managing this disease more effectively in the community will be the key to improving outcomes and reducing costs associated with mis-management and subsequent NHS treatment.

    John Sanderson

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