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How much could addressing obesity help tackle London’s rise in type 2 diabetes?

20 June 2013

Cases of type 2 diabetes[1] have risen by 75 per cent in London over the last decade[2]. How much is increasing obesity to blame for this rise and what are the other contributory factors?  And why is care for the almost half a million diabetics in London[3] so varied?

The London Assembly's Health Committee is today launching a new investigation into diabetes care in London to assess the scale and impact of the condition in the capital and explore how NHS reforms[4] could affect patient care.

Being overweight or obese increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and latest figures show that more than one in five adults in London is obese[5] as is one in five children[6]. As part of the investigation the Committee will look at how this is fuelling rising levels of type 2 diabetes, as well as factors such as ethnicity, age, deprivation, cost of living, diet and sedentary lifestyles.

Assembly Members will consider the impact of diabetes on health spending in London - nationally it is estimated the condition accounts for 10 per cent of the NHS budget. They will also explore why fewer than half of diabetes patients in London have received all nine of the care processes recommended by NICE[6] and why take up of annual tests varies across the capital.

Dr Onkar Sahota AM, Chair of the Health Committee, said: “The diabetes time bomb in London is something we cannot afford to ignore.

“Type 2 diabetes is a condition that can have extremely serious health implications including kidney disease, heart disease and strokes and it is very worrying that cases in London have soared in recent years.

”We want to look at what is behind this rise, what can be done to tackle it and the kind of care being offered to diabetics across the capital.”

The Committee will be gathering views from people with diabetes and interested organisations, plus hearing from experts, with the first Committee meeting to discuss the issue scheduled for June 25.

Notes to editors:

  1. Diabetes is a condition in which the body does not use or produce insulin properly. There are two types - type 1 in which the body produces no insulin and which cannot be prevented, and type 2 which develops when the body can still make insulin, but not enough, or when the insulin does not work properly. If you are overweight or obese (you have a body mass index of 30 or greater), you are at greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
  2. See Diabetes Guide for London, NHS Healthcare for London, March 2009
  3. It is estimated that around 469,000 in London have diabetes, with around 90 per cent having type 2 diabetes and 10 per cent type 1. See this link for more detailed figures
  4. Since April 2013 there is no strategic health authority overseeing service provision and patient access. Public health responsibilities have passed to local authorities.
  5. Based on 2010 figures - see Public Health England website for data showing incidence of obesity in adults over 16 between 1998 and 2010.
  6. One in five children is obese in London. See P 10 of the 2011 London Assembly report on child obesity – Tipping the Scales. A child is considered to be obese if they are in the 95th centile (the highest 5%) of the Body Mass Index scale, and overweight if they are in the 85th centile (the highest 15%). 
  7. See NICE guideline
  8. Read more about the investigation
  9. Dr Onkar Sahota AM, Chair of the Health Committee, is available for interview.  See contact details below.
  10. As well as investigating issues that matter to Londoners, the London Assembly acts as a check and a balance on the Mayor.

For more details, please contact Lisa Moore/Julie Wheldon in the Assembly Media Office on 020 7983 4228/4283.  For out of hours media enquiries please call 020 7983 4000 and ask for the Assembly duty press officer.  Non-media enquiries should be directed to the Public Liaison Unit, Greater London Authority, on 020 7983 4100.