Health Experts Hope to Raise Diabetes Awareness on World Health Day

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Wednesday, 30 March 2016

April 7th is World Health Day, and this year the focus is on the dangers of diabetes, which plays a part in the lives of more than 39,000 people in Leeds alone.

Diabetes UK released figures in January that suggest that the number of people in Leeds suffering from diabetes has risen by 3,527. This brings the number up to a staggering 39,635. A rise of 14.32 percent of cases was seen by Leeds North CCG over the last three years. This is compared to the national average of six percent and makes it the fifth largest rise in England. The second highest rise in the region was seen by North Kirklees, with an increase of 12.74 percent. This was followed by Scarborough and Ryedale at 11.56 and Leeds South and East with a rise of 10.07 percent.

This year, the World Health Organisation have selected the dangers of diabetes as the theme for their annual World Health Day event, which falls on the birthday of the organisation. Every year, the WHO chooses an area considered a concern globally in a bid to raise awareness.

Diabetes is a chronic, metabolic condition that has two forms – type 1 and type 2. It occurs when the pancreas fails to produce sufficient insulin, or if the body doesn’t use the insulin created effectively. Insulin is what controls the levels of blood sugar in the body and raised blood sugar levels over time can cause serious damage to the heart, kidneys, blood vessels, nerves and eyes.

Around the world, diabetes is directly linked to 1.5 million deaths every year, with nine percent of the global adult population affected. 90 percent of those suffer with type 2 diabetes.

Type 1 diabetes occurs when the pancreas produces either little or no insulin itself and must be controlled by injections of insulin. The more common type 2 diabetes is often directly linked to obesity. Diabetes UK has called for more action to combat the obesity problem and highlighted the need to make healthy food less expensive and more accessible, as well as making it easier for people to engage in more physical activity on a daily basis.

Alongside the rise in adult cases, there has also been a steady rise in the number of teenagers and children developing diabetes.

Health professionals, charities and even celebrity chefs are now working towards making healthy food an easier option than convenience food. Campaigns for better food labelling and salt, sugar and fat reductions in products are underway and campaigners also want to restrict the marketing of junk food to children as the world works towards a healthier lifestyle.

George Osborne pledged in the recent budget to introduce a sugar tax on soft drinks in 2018 to tackle rates of childhood obesity. Research published recently in the Lancet suggests that a sugar reduction of 40 percent in soft drinks over five years could prevent 300,000 diabetes cases in Britain.