Diabetes ‘timebomb’ warning

Health chiefs are appealing for people in East Anglia to help defuse a 'diabetes timebomb' by taking weight and lifestyle issues seriously.

The calls come as the world's biggest audit of diabetes found that hundreds of thousands of people with diabetes in the UK, including young children, are facing severe complications and could require 'substantial' hospital care in the future.

The NHS report found that youngsters and those in their 20s, 30s and 40s are at dangerously high risk of serious problems, including kidney failure and stroke.

Serious complications can occur when blood sugar is not kept under control, including limb amputation and blindness.

There were 43,800 people aged 17 and over registered with GPs across Norfolk and Waveney diagnosed with diabetes in 2009-10, a figure which is expected to rise in the coming years.

NHS Norfolk's assistant director of public health Jonathan Williams said: 'We cannot re-emphasise enough the importance of everyone taking their weight and lifestyle issues seriously. Type 1 diabetes is genetic, however Type 2 diabetes is strongly linked to being overweight.

'All of us can reduce our risk of diabetes by keeping our weight down, eating a healthy, balanced diet and taking exercise. If there is a 'diabetes timebomb' in the making then all of us can play our part in defusing the situation now.'

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The audit found that diabetics under 54 are less likely than those aged 55 to 69 to receive all the basic health checks needed to keep their condition under control.

Just 42pc of those aged 25 to 54 receive the nine basic health checks that should be given by NHS staff, including blood pressure, blood sugar, weight and foot care, compared with 54pc of those aged 55 and over.

In Norfolk, Waveney, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire, the percentage of patients of all ages getting these nine key checks are all above the national average.

For information on a variety of schemes to help people stay healthy, log on to www.gywpct.nhs.uk, or call 01493 852207, or visit www.norfolk.nhs.uk/your-health.