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change our behaviour We must all c to halt this ep pidemic of diabetes; The National Assembly's Health and Social Care Committee recently heard evidence about diabetes man Vaughan services available in Wales. Its chairmGething explains why diabetes can be described as an 'epidemic' across Wales and the reest of the UK and why a change in our behaviour is s essential.

DIABETES can legitimately be described as an epidemic across Wales and the rest of the UK.

It affects 5% of the population and 15-20% of hospital inpatients.

The number of people with type 2 diabetes continues to rise each year with an ever-larger proportion of diagnoses at a younger age.

This is not a fringe issue. It is a major challenge for us all, not only for people living with diabetes and the healthcare staff who care for them.

The rising demand and cost of treatment is something that affects us all.

In addition to those who are diagnosed, thousands of people don't realise that they have high blood glucose levels, which can lead to diabetes.

Developing type 2 diabetes can be linked with living an unhealthy lifestyle, such as being overweight, not doing enough exercise and eating an unhealthy diet. Having a history of diabetes in your family is also a risk factor in developing the condition yourself.

Diabetes is a chronic condition - it is neither trivial nor transient. Once a person is diagnosed, it's life. There is a clear imperative to manage the condition properly to sustain individual health and wellbeing.

tt w bwdda Diabetes can impact on your body in all sorts of ways. People with diabetes are more likely to develop heart disease, kidney disease, blindness or to need amputation.

cewtt All this costs money - diabetes costs the NHS in Wales PS500m every year in addition to the wider economic cost. It's likely that this figure will increase as the number of people with the condition continues to grow.

c bmdi The sheer volume of people being diagnosed - with many more expected to follow - underscores the importance of turning back the tide. That isn't easy.

ecshf We know there are already consistent public health messages but positively changing behaviour remains stubbornly difficult.

There is a parallel task to ensure that those who have diabetes get the best care and support to manage their condition and avoid complications in years to come.

sbpat mvba In 2003 the Welsh Government established a National Service Framework (NSF) on diabetes which set out 12 key standards for diabetes services across Was Wales. Health Boards were given a deadline of 10 years to make sure these standards were put in place.

p taapc As we approached the end of this 10 year period, the Health and Social Care Committee asked diabetes charities, health professionals and diabetes specialists for their views on diabetes services in Wales, to assess whether progress had been made and what still needed to be improved.

bwa p The response we received was clear - more needs to be done if we're going to slow down this ever-increasing problem.

cwe v2 As with most conditions, prevention is better than cure. Type 2 diabetes can be prevented in most cases through lifestyle changes. It's important that people know the risk factors associated with diabetes.

Public awareness campaigns are important tools to convey this message. Without that information there is much less chance that people will make changes to their lives and hopefully lower their chances of getting diabetes.

People with diabetes need to understand how their condition can have an impact on their lives and how they can make changes to lessen the effect.

Being able to access education is crucial - especially at or immediately after the time of diagnosis. That is when people are most likely to be motivated to make lifestyle changes and manage their conditions most effectively in the future.

We heard that the different health boards in Wales don't offer the same levels of education, so we recommended that the Welsh Government addresses this as a matter of urgency.

Appropriate education is a proven success in improving the management of diabetes so consistent services should be available to everyone in Wales. Each health board has its own planning and delivery group to lead and manage their diabetes services.

We heard that the membership of these groups varied between areas and often relied on the commitment of one or two people to drive their work.

We believe these groups should be taken seriously by everyone - the participants and the health boards - to ensure that the recommendations they make are taken on board. The groups need to work together; they need to share their experiences so that if something works for one, others can learn from their experiences.

It's important that people with diabetes get the right care while in hospital, even if their admission isn't related to their diabetes.

A high proportion of people in hospital are diabetic, so diabetes specialists need to know where they are to ensure their diabetes is cared for.

It's important that all nursing staff can identify if a person experiences problems with their diabetes - and take action.

The evidence we heard was striking.

Diabetes has already reached epidemic levels in Wales.

A failure to continue taking action will mean ever larger numbers of people with diabetes with ever-larger numbers of complications.

That would mean more people living with ill health.

We should not simply accept that as inevitable. The lifestyle choices driving the rise in diabetes impact upon many other public health challenges that we face.

Changing our collective behaviour is not easy but it is hard not to see a wider change in behaviour and choices as anything less than essential.

DIABETES FACT FILE | Diabetes occurs when the body does not produce enough insulin or the body is resistant to insulin and glucose is not transferred to the body's cells, causing people to have high blood sugar levels.

| Type 1 diabetes occurs where the body produces no insulin while Type 2 diabetes develops when the body does not make enough insulin or if the insulin produced does not work properly. Type 1 is usually diagnosed at a young age whereas as Type 2 is usually diagnosed at a later age as it is heavily linked with lifestyle.

| Symptoms of diabetes include blurred vision, excess thirst and hunger, fatigue and the slow healing of cuts and wounds. Other symptoms include urinating often and unexplained weight loss.

| There is no cure for diabetes. However, many people are able to manage their condition through healthy diet and exercise. People with diabetes may be prescribed tablets or insulin injections.


Our lifestyle choices can significantly affect our chances of developing Type 2 diabetes
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jun 27, 2013
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