Off to Hell in a sugar-filled hand cart.

A disappointing start to the year in the UK as Diabetes UK releases data that shows that the number of people in the  UK living with diabetes has now topped 4 million for the first time.

“The new figures, extracted from GP patient data, show that there are now 4.05 million people with the condition in the UK, which includes 3.5 million adults who have been diagnosed, an increase of 119,965 compared to the previous year, and an increase of 65 per cent over the past decade. There are also thought to be 549,000 people with undiagnosed Type 2 diabetes.”

Diabetes UK

So that’s 4 million people living with a hugely increased risk of heart disease, amputation, kidney disease, blindness, problems with their nervous system and a whole host of other complications that may, without the proper care, make their lives a misery and shorten their lifespan. Disturbingly, it looks like our health service may already be failing to cope:

“At the moment, more than 24,000 people a year with diabetes die before their time, which is because:

  • Only 60 per cent of people with diabetes are getting the eight NICE recommended checks, which are key to identifying any problems early enough to prevent complications.
  • Diabetes education courses are not being commissioned for people in over a third of areas in England.
  • Hospital care for people with diabetes is consistently poor and, in a significant minority of cases, is putting people’s lives at risk.

This is despite clear evidence that improving care would help avoid health complications that, as well as being personally devastating, account for 80 per cent of the NHS’ £10 billion annual spend on diabetes”.

In a post yesterday, Diabetes UK reports on a study published in a Journal of The Lancet that reducing sugar in soft drinks by 40% would result in 300,000 fewer cases of Type 2 diabetes annually:

“A new study published in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology journal suggests that reducing sugar content in sugar sweetened drinks in the UK by 40% over five years, without replacing them with any artificial sweeteners, could prevent 500,000 cases of overweight and 1 million cases of obesity, in turn preventing around 300,000 cases of type 2 diabetes, over two decades. “

Finally,the UK government seems to have woken up to the catastrophe that is overtaking public health in the UK and has said that it does not “rule out” introducing a tax on sugary drinks (although seemingly not on other sugary products, like sugar!):

BBC News

Too little too late in my view but at least the government now recognises there might be a problem. Personally, I don’t think taxing the consumer is the answer. The answer is education so that people can make wise choices about what they consume and proper care for the unfortunate people who succumb to this awful disease – both of which will cost money. In my view the money should come from those people that have profited from the current situation – the sugar producers and the soft drink manufacturers. Make them pay the clean up costs for the mess they have created.



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