As more children are being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, more work needs to be done to make sure parents recognise signs of the disease and know what to do about it.
That’s according to Dr Sanjay Dissanayake, consultant in diabetes and endocrinology at Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.
And his comments come after new figures show there are now 96 more people with diabetes in Blackpool than this time last year.
An analysis by Diabetes UK shows that around 9,411 people in Blackpool are now thought to have diabetes – up from 9.315 from 2012.
It means that 8.2 per cent of the town’s population has the condition, and Diabetes UK expects that to rise to 8.9 per cent by 2020.
The charity predicts the rise will be down to new cases of type 2 diabetes, which mainly affects people over the age of 40 but cases involving children are increasing.
The condition is mainly down to bad diet and poor exercise, unlike type one diabetes which is commonly genetic and means the pancreas isn’t producing insulin which breaks down sugar in the body.
Dr Dissanayake said: “Type 2 diabetes is mainly caused by a poor lifestyle, so if you manage your weight, your chance of getting diabetes is less. Type 2 diabetes used to be a middle age problem but now cases in children are dramatically rising mainly due to obesity.
“If people have a family history of diabetes they need to be very careful.
“They should follow a healthy lifestyle from childhood and keep a balanced diet – everything in moderation, reducing carbs and fat by eating more fruit and veg and less fried food and fizzy drinks is essential.
“Jamie Oliver’s campaign for balanced school dinners is fantastic as it’s very helpful for young children and families who should follow his lead and try to manage their weight, both adults and children.”
As soon as someone suspects they or their children are diabetic, they should seek medical advice.
Dr Dissanayake said: “If you diagnose and treat early you can avoid complications including in your heart, eyes, kidneys and feet. Continuous obesity heightens risk of contracting the disease.
“Globally diabetes is on dramatic rise, putting a real strain on resources.
“Diabetes is a long-term chronic condition that needs life-long care which is expensive to maintain. Not only that but if the patient does suffer complications brought on by the diabetes, they may have to have dialysis, kidney transplants and amputations which is both traumatic to the patient but also puts a strain on their friends and families who have to support them through the process.”
Julie Byron, Diabetes UK’s regional manager for the North West, said: “It is alarming that the number of people with diabetes in Blackpool has gone up by 96 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.
“I know that we all have busy lives and that thinking about future health can be uncomfortable, but it is only if people in Blackpool grasp the nettle and get their risk assessed that we can start to bring the rise in diabetes in the area to an end.”