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Are diabetes drugs prescribed too easily?

People with Type 2 diabetes are being prescribed medication too readily after diagnosis without giving healthy lifestyle changes a chance.

A Diabetes UK-funded study of 652 people newly diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes showed that 36 per cent were prescribed diabetes tablets within a month of diagnosis. Guidelines by the National Institute for Clinical Health and Excellence recommend lifestyle management only for all people with Type 2 diabetes for a period of time before commencing medication.

Figures also show that 13 per cent of those in the study on medication were already taking two types of tablets.

The research is due to be presented next week at Diabetes UK’s Annual Professional Conference in Glasgow.

How Type 2 diabetes is treated in the UK

Half of the 2.25 million people with Type 2 diabetes treat their condition with tablets, which work in different ways to help lower blood glucose levels. Only 20 per cent of people treat their diabetes with diet and physical activity and 30 per cent require insulin injections.

Concern that medication is first port of call

“Diabetes UK is concerned that in some cases, medication is the first port of call," said Simon O’Neill, Director of Care, Information and Advocacy at Diabetes UK.

"A healthy, balanced diet and doing physical activity should always be the foundation of good diabetes management.

Progressive condition

"Type 2 diabetes is a progressive condition - the longer a person has diabetes, the more likely they are to need tablets, and eventually insulin. Even if people are on tablets, medication should not simply replace diet and physical activity.

Eat well and keep active to help reduce risk of complications

“Eating well and being physically active are important for all people, but for people with diabetes it is particularly important, to reduce the risk of diabetes complications such as heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, blindness and amputation.”

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