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One in five hospital patients has diabetes


The UK’s obesity crisis is putting NHS hospitals under increased strain from the number of patients admitted with diabetes-related illnesses, a study has found.

Lack of exercise, poor diet, smoking and alcohol abuse are all contributing to increasing levels of obesity in the UK, sending the number of people with diabetes “mushrooming”, according to Professor Anthony Barnett, clinical director for diabetes at Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust in Birmingham.

A diabetes audit of 200 NHS hospitals, led by diabetes tsar Dr Rowan Hillson, found disparity between the number of people diagnosed with the disease in the UK (4 per cent of the population) and the number of hospital patients who have the disease (20 per cent of those on the wards).

Professor Barnett said: “The situation we are facing as a country is absolutely terrifying.

“The obesity rates get worse and worse, the numbers with diabetes keep mushrooming, and given that these people are prone to a whole range of serious medical conditions, it has enormous impact on NHS resources,” he said.


Readers' comments (3)

  • Ian McAllister

    Diabetes Awareness education has several important functions:

    1. To prevent Type 2 diabetes in the first place.

    2. To delay the onset of Type 2 diabetes by many years.

    3. To reduce the risk of further diabetes complications such as never damage, eye, kidney and cardiovascular disease, depression and sexual dysfunction.

    Obesity and lifestyle choices such as smoking/excess alcohol consumption & inactivity all contribute to insulin resistance - leading to Type 2 diabetes.

    If the majority of Type 2 diabetes cases could have been prevented in the first place, then the focus needs to be on education (and at an early age).

    Diabetes education is also important to help people with diabetes to understand the importance of good diabetes self-management and long-term blood glucose control (HbA1c).

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  • Thats good to hear, at least my job is a bit safer.

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  • The rapid increase in the prevalence of obesity, type-2 diabetes and associated complications is a major global health problem. As the article correctly states, this fast escalating cost is putting enormous pressure on the NHS, adding to the strain already felt by a struggling diabetes service.

    In Europe alone, approximately 33 million adults will be suffering from diabetes by 2010, and obesity, which is a major recognised risk factor for type-2 diabetes, is itself rapidly increasing in prevalence resulting in a ‘diabesity’ epidemic.

    Many clinicians now believe that patients need far more support and engagement in managing their own conditions. Yet programmes for greater patient interaction, including expansion of the NHS Healthspace Personal Health Record project, are now reported to have been shelved.

    Improvements in proactive management of the growing diabetic population can only be achieved by delivering continuous patient interaction. A truly interactive patient portal would provide the ongoing carer/patient relationship that is essential in managing these chronic conditions.

    What is now required are joint pilots between the NHS and specialist software vendors that can demonstrate the clinical and financial value associated with improved patient empowerment. Proactive management of diabesity is key to enabling more patients to successfully control their diabetes within the primary care services, reducing the cost and pressure on the NHS Trusts.

    Mike Paylor
    Business Development Manager

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