Home In your area Northern Ireland News Jan - June 2012 News Releases

Jan - June 2012 News Releases

2 in 3 adults overweight but only 40 per cent recognise that they themselves need to lose weight

Diabetes UK Northern Ireland have joined with Safefood to promote the latest activity in their 'Stop the Spread' campaign.  New research announced by safefood in January revealed that despite two out of three adults on the island of Ireland being overweight, only 40 per cent of adults now classify themselves as such.

This indicates that thousands of men and women are still failing to recognise that they themselves are overweight, and are putting their health at increased risk of Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and some cancers.  The research was conducted as part of safefood’s ongoing ‘Stop the Spread’ campaign to tackle overweight and obesity.  

Other findings of the research identified that concerns about diabetes have doubled in the last year and there has been a marked improvement in adults’ understanding of where to accurately measure their waist with 31 per cent of respondents correctly saying it is around the bellybutton area.  The number of people who measured their waist in the six weeks before the survey was conducted also increased, with 20 per cent of people claiming to have done so. 

The ‘Stop the Spread’ campaign is aimed at alerting people to the fact that being overweight is now the ‘norm’, and tackling the common excuses for excess weight around the middle such as middle-age spread, height or genetics. 

Insulin 90 years on – but diabetes itself still soaring

Exactly 90 years ago today a 14-year-old Canadian boy, Leonard Thompson, became the first person with diabetes to be successfully treated with insulin. 

Without this medical breakthrough, nearly 28,000 people in Northern Ireland who are today kept alive with daily insulin injections would not be here. Prior to insulin treatment a diagnosis of Type 1 diabetes was an invariable death sentence with patients usually surviving for only a few months and, often, just weeks or days.

Since the historic treatment – arguably one of the greatest medical advances of the twentieth century – millions of people worldwide have used insulin, usually in the form of injections, to regulate their blood glucose levels and stay alive.  In Northern Ireland, in 2010, just under 200,000 prescriptions were issued in relation to insulin and an estimated total of 1.5million insulin pens, cartridges and vials.

Eamonn Hoy from Enniskillen has been living with Type 1 diabetes for 60 years next month.  He said: “In 1952 I was fairly ill, I had lost a huge amount of weight and that’s how I came to be diagnosed.  At that time I had only turned 17 and everyone diagnosed in the local area had passed away with it.”

“I had one syringe with one needle which had to be sterilised and, at that time, there was no electricity so every morning I had to boil the kettle to sterilise it before I could inject.  The needles were also very coarse and I had to inject so much insulin in the one go that it would leave me with a lump on my leg.”

“Ten years ago I had a heart attack but other than that I’ve enjoyed good health and have been able to travel abroad and do everything I wanted to, including having four healthy sons.  If it hadn’t been for the creation of insulin, none of this would have been possible.”

1 in 4 children with diabetes endure life threatening complication

An alarming number of children are experiencing a life-threatening complication, Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA).  DKA is an illness that occurs when blood glucose levels are dangerously high.  It can cause nausea, vomiting, stomach pain and rapid breathing, and potentially lead to a coma. 

Figures for Northern Ireland last year reveal 145 cases where children were admitted to accident and emergency departments.  Diabetes UK Northern Ireland has said it is vital that healthcare professionals and parents have the knowledge to be able to detect the signs of undiagnosed Type 1 diabetes so that vital insulin treatment can begin as quickly as possible and DKA can be prevented.
Children and young people under 19 accounted for 25 per cent of the 588 emergency admissions for DKA during the 12-month period from April 2010 to March 2011. An article in the British Medical Journal indicated that one in three newly diagnosed children have had at least one related medical visit prior to diagnosis, suggesting the condition is being missed by doctors.

Recent-onset of night-time bed wetting (in a child who was previously ‘dry’) is the earliest symptom of diabetes in children over the age of four years old. Other symptoms can include excessive thirst and frequent urination, weight loss, lethargy and, in the under 5s, constipation.