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UK’s poorest twice as likely to have diabetes and its complications

The poorest people in the UK are 2.5 times more likely to have diabetes at any age than the average person, a new Diabetes UK report reveals today. And once they have the condition, those in the most deprived homes are twice as likely to develop complications of diabetes as those in the least deprived.

'Diabetes in the UK 2009: Key statistics on diabetes', reveals the shocking reality for people living in deprivation. Deprivation is strongly associated with higher levels of obesity, physical inactivity, unhealthy diet, smoking and poor blood pressure control, all of which are linked to the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes and the risk of serious complications amongst those already diagnosed with both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes.

Douglas Smallwood, Chief Executive of Diabetes UK, said: “Action must be taken now to stop a generation of people living in deprivation ending up in an early grave.

“Diabetes UK wants health authorities to raise awareness of the risk factors and symptoms of Type 2 diabetes, and what can be done to prevent it, amongst those at high risk of developing the condition. Strategies for this should be developed and delivered in partnership with local community groups. Information must be tailored and made available in formats that meet the diversity of needs within the local population.

“In addition, the NHS must ensure that appropriate, high quality care is available across the country and that everyone, regardless of their socio-economic status, is accessing it. Research has shown that people with diabetes in deprived or high ethnicity areas are less likely to have key health checks, putting them at increased risk of developing devastating complications such as heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, blindness and amputation.

“Finally, in these times of economic uncertainty when people are more likely to turn to cheaper, processed foods, food labeling must be clear and consistent to allow people to make informed choices about what they are eating.”

Risk factors for Type 2 diabetes include having a large waist; being of Black or South Asian origin; having a family history of the condition; and being over 40 years old, or over 25 if you’re Black, Asian or from an ethnic minority group. Type 2 diabetes can be undetected for 10 years or more and around half of people already have complications by the time they are diagnosed. At risk waist measurements are 37 inches or more for men, except those of South Asian origin who are at risk at 35 inches or more, and 31.5 inches or more for all women.

Research shows that losing weight can reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes in those at high risk by 58 per cent and regular physical activity can reduce the risk by 64 per cent.

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