Sharp rise in diabetes in Somerset
The number of people with diabetes in Somerset has risen by more than 800 in a year.
A new analysis by Diabetes UK shows that just over 35,230 people in Somerset are now thought to have diabetes, up from almost 34,420 in 2012. This means that 7.9 per cent of people over the age of 16 in the area are now thought to have the condition. Diabetes UK warned that this proportion is expected to rise over the next few years.
It is projected that more than eight per cent of people in Somerset will have diabetes by 2020, a rise expected to comprise mainly of new cases of Type 2 diabetes, which already accounts for about 90 per cent of diabetes cases nationally.
Risk factors for Type 2 include being overweight, over 40, or having a close family member with diabetes.
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Graham Cooper, Diabetes UK’s regional manager for the South West, said: “It is alarming that the number of people with diabetes in Somerset has gone up by more than 800 in a single year and addressing this situation needs to be one of the top health priorities in the area. Given that the increase in diabetes cases is mainly due to a sharp rise in Type 2 diabetes, we need to get 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 lifestyle changes that can help prevent it.
“This is why we need to raise awareness that if people are over 40, overweight, have a large waist, or have a family history of diabetes, they need to get a risk assessment, as should people from who are South Asian and aged over 25.
“I know that we all have busy lives and that thinking about future health can be uncomfortable, but it is only if people in Somerset grasp the nettle and get their risk assessed that we can start to bring the rise in diabetes in the area to an end.”
Diabetes UK is urging people in Somerset to have their risk assessed. You can do this at a Tesco pharmacy, GP surgery, or online at www.diabetes.org.uk/risk. About 80 per cent of cases of Type 2 diabetes could be delayed or prevented through making healthy lifestyle changes.
The charity is also concerned that many people wrongly think diabetes is a relatively mild condition and so do not see the need to find out more about their own risk, whereas in fact it can lead to devastating health complications such as blindness, amputation, stroke and heart attacks, and ultimately to early death.
While most cases of Type 2 diabetes can be prevented or delayed through lifestyle, 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.