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Wednesday, 31 October, 2001, 14:05 GMT
Charity warns of diabetes epidemic
Type-2 diabetics are not insulin dependent
A leading charity has warned that diabetes will soon reach epidemic proportions in Scotland unless something is done to tackle obesity.

Diabetes UK says that there are 250,000 Scots with the condition but claims this number "will double" in the next 25 years unless more people undertake dramatic lifestyle changes.

The charity says that thousands of people are placing themselves at risk of type-2 diabetes, which is commonly linked to obesity.

It also estimates that thousands more are walking around with the some form of undiagnosed diabetes.

Obese person
Obesity is linked to type-2 diabetes
Delia Henry, national manager with Diabetes UK, said: "We know that there are about 70,000 people in Scotland who have diabetes and don't know that.

"The reason that we do know that is that when people are diagnosed with type-2 diabetes, and that's the one we're really concerned about at the moment, they present with a heart attack or a complication of diabetes."

Ms Henry said that when this happens doctors know the patient has had the condition for several years.

She added: "We also know that because of lifestyle changes, people being overweight and not having as much activity in their life as they should have, that can be a trigger for diabetes.

"The combinations are not good for the future and we know that the number of people with diabetes will double."

According to the charity, someone in Scotland is diagnosed with diabetes every five minutes.

Public awareness

Certain types of the disease, and in particular type-2, are rocketing - it is thought to be the fastest growing illness in Scotland.

Type-2 diabetes currently affects one in 10 older people, almost all of whom are overweight.

Charities like Diabetes UK are concerned that despite its prevalence, public awareness of the condition and its consequences, is poor.

The combinations are not good for the future and we know that the number of people with diabetes will double

Delia Henry, Diabetes UK
Diabetes is a condition in which the body cannot control the level of sugar, or glucose in the bloodstream.

Nine in 10 diabetics have type-2 diabetes, which usually develops later in life, unlike type-1, or juvenile diabetes, which can leave sufferers needing insulin injections from their childhood, teens or twenties.

It can lead to damaged blood vessels, and is often not diagnosed until complications have set in.

On average sufferers die eight years early, they are at higher risk of heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, blindness and even limb amputation.

Type-2 sufferers do not make enough insulin, or are unable to make proper use of it.

Without enough insulin, the body cannot move blood sugar into the cells. Sugar builds up in the bloodstream and causes health problems.

BBC Scotland's Eleanor Bradford
"Diabetes can have a huge impact on your quality of life"
Delia Henry, Diabetes UK
"We know that the number of people with diabetes will double"
See also:

29 Oct 01 | England
'Neglect' in diabetic death
27 Aug 01 | Health
Insulin pill hope for diabetics
07 Dec 00 | Health
'Blunders killed young diabetic'
14 Mar 00 | Scotland
Diabetes sufferers risk death
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