According to the list of the 10 areas in England with the highest rates of diabetes that we published today, 10.5 per cent of people in Brent have the condition. This is almost double the rate in the City of London (5.5 per cent), which has England’s lowest rate despite being just three miles from Brent.
As well as Brent, the other areas with the highest rates in England are: Newham in London (9.9 per cent); Wolverhampton (9.6 per cent); Harrow in London (9.4 per cent); Sandwell (9.4 per cent); Leicester (9.3 per cent); Walsall (8.8 per cent); Blackburn with Darwen (8.7 per cent); Redbridge in London (8.7 per cent); and Birmingham (8.7 per cent).
While Brent is currently the only area with a rate of over one in 10 people have the condition, six other areas are projected to join it by the end of the decade. Nationally, 7.4 per cent of people aged over 16 are now thought to have diabetes and this is projected to rise to 8.4 per cent by 2020. This rise is expected to comprise mainly of new cases of Type 2 diabetes, where risk factors include being overweight; having a large waist; being over 40 (or over 25 if they are South Asian); or having a close relative with diabetes.
Check your risk
We have responded to the news by urging people to make sure they know the risk factors for Type 2 diabetes and have a risk assessment if any of these apply to them. People can do this at a pharmacy, their GP surgery, or online, and this can act as the start of people reducing their risk; 80 per cent of cases of Type 2 could be delayed or prevented through making healthy lifestyle changes.
We are also concerned that many people think that diabetes is a relatively mild condition and so do not see the need to find out more about their own risk. In fact it can lead to serious health complications such as blindness, amputation, stroke and heart attacks, and ultimately to early death. This is why we are currently running a hard-hitting advertising campaign, funded through our National Charity Partnership with Tesco, to highlight the possible consequences of having Type 2 diabetes, including the devastating impact it can have on people’s families.
Vital first step
Barbara Young, our Chief Executive, said: “It is truly alarming that there is now somewhere in England where more than one in ten of the people have diabetes and shows that we are heading at frightening speed towards a future where diabetes becomes the norm.
“Given that the increase in diabetes cases is mainly due to a sharp rise in Type 2 diabetes, the only way we will finally bring the increase under control is by getting much better at preventing cases of Type 2. A vital first step towards this is to ensure both that people realise how serious it is and also that they understand their own personal risk so that if they are at high risk they can make the simple lifestyle changes that can help prevent it.
“This is why we need to raise awareness that if people are overweight, have a large waist or are over 40, they need to get a risk assessment, as should people who have a family history of diabetes or are South Asian and over 25.
Grasp the nettle
“I know that we all have busy lives and that thinking about future health can be uncomfortable, but it is only if people grasp the nettle and get their risk assessed that we can avoid a future where there are many areas where one in 10 of the population have diabetes, and the devastating health complications associated with it.”
Type 2 diabetes accounts for about 90 per cent of diagnosed diabetes cases. About 10 per cent of cases are Type 1 diabetes, which tends to occur in younger people and is not linked to lifestyle or weight at all. The estimates for the number of people with diabetes in 2012 and 2013 come from official figures produced by Yorkshire and Humber Health Intelligence.