“Shocking” rise in obesity cases

A 'shocking' rise in obesity in the region is causing an increase in new diabetes diagnoses - but the danger can be averted with exercise and diet.

The number of people diagnosed with diabetes in the East of England has increased by more than 13,000 over the last 12 months to 244,281, warns the health charity Diabetes UK.

Behind this is a rise of 28,000 over the same period in those registered as obese, up to almost half a million.

Around 90pc of people in the UK with diabetes have the Type 2 variety, which is linked to being overweight and leading a sedentary lifestyle.

In many cases the condition can be prevented by maintaining a healthy weight, taking regular exercise and eating a diet rich in fruit and vegetables and low in fat, sugar and salt.

Sharon Tillbrook, regional manager for Diabetes UK in the East of England, said: 'Once again we see a shocking rise in diabetes and obesity rates across the East of England.

'Many, but not all, people develop Type 2 diabetes because they are overweight or obese so we must keep up the mantra of 'five fruit and veg a day', encourage daily physical activity, and warn of the potentially devastating consequences of an unhealthy lifestyle.

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'Failure to act now means a bleak future of spiralling NHS costs and worsening public health,' she added.

The charity warned that diabetes can cause blindness, amputation and an early death if not diagnosed early.

The main risk factors are being overweight or having a large waist, being aged over 40 - or 25 in Black and South Asian people - and having a close relative with diabetes.

Symptoms include going to the toilet often, increased thirst, extreme tiredness and blurred vision.

Around 10pc of NHS spending currently goes on diabetes, equating to �9b a year or �1m an hour.

Jonathan Williams, NHS Norfolk's assistant director of public health, said: 'Type 2 diabetes most often occurs after the age of 40 when it is associated with unhealthy diet and lifestyles, therefore we advise everyone to reduce their risk of diabetes by watching their weight and exercising regularly.'

Free NHS health checks are available for anyone aged 40 to 74 who is concerned that they may have developed diabetes by contacting a GP.

People are offered tests to establish whether they are at risk of developing a range of conditions such as diabetes and given advice on how to change their lifestyle.

t For more information on NHS services in the region visit www.norfolk.nhs.uk

t To take an online diabetes risk test visit www.diabetes.org.uk/riskscore.

t Do you struggle with the healthcare services provided in Norwich? Call reporter Matthew Sparkes on 01603 772439 or email matthew.sparkes@archant.co.uk