Diabetes and obesity rates on the rise

SUFFOLK'S diabetes and obesity rates are rising but health bosses are confident the trend will soon reverse.

Naomi Gornall

SUFFOLK'S diabetes and obesity rates are rising but health bosses are confident the trend will soon reverse.

The latest figures reveal that more than 20,000 people in the county have diabetes and more than 46,000 are registered as obese.

Health charity, Diabetes UK, warns that the national statistics are worrying as about one in 10 people are being treated for obesity and one in 20 for diabetes.

According to new data from the NHS's Quality and Outcomes Framework for England, there were 22,991 people registered with their GP as having diabetes in Suffolk between April 2008 to March 2009, and 46,629 people registered as obese.

This is a slight increase on last year, as there were 21,667 with diabetes, and 44,607 obese people.

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Sally Hogg, head of health improvement partnerships at NHS Suffolk, said: “We are working really hard on Healthy Ambitions Suffolk. It was launched last November and the aim is to make Suffolk the healthiest county. There are lots of things going on but it is going to take time before we see some results. You cannot be overweight one minute and not the next. We hope Healthy Ambitions is something that can involve everyone who lives and works in Suffolk. It is just about people making very small changes to their lifestyles. What we are trying to do is for people to be responsible for helping themselves.”

Among the projects ongoing are health walks across the county, developing allotments to allow people to grow their own healthy food, and an online health manager to help people get fitter.

The increase seen in Suffolk mirrors the situation across the East of England. This year there are 230,909 people with diabetes, compared to 215,977 last year. There were also 451,848 registered as being obese compared to 432,074 last year.

Around 90% of people with diabetes have Type 2 diabetes, which is often linked to lifestyle factors such as being overweight or obese, leading a sedentary lifestyle and eating an unhealthy diet.

Sharon Tillbrook, regional manager for Diabetes UK Eastern, said: “If we don't stop the rising tides of obesity and diabetes, millions will face a future of ill-health and will put an ever-growing strain on NHS resources.”