NHS boss pledges action on Type 2 diabetes
The health service needs to take urgent action to prevent “condemning our children to a rising tide of avoidable diabetes”, the Chief Executive of the NHS has said.
Simon Stevens said the NHS needed to take “concrete, comprehensive, and sometimes controversial action” on three broad fronts – prevention, care and sustainability – to make it fit for the future.
In his first speech since the general election – and sharing a platform with the Prime Minister – the NHS England boss said: “First, as a nation it’s time to get our act together on prevention. Yes, life expectancy is its highest ever. But smoking still explains half the inequality in life expectancy between rich and poor – and two thirds of smokers get hooked as kids. Binge drinking costs at least £5 billion a year – in A&E admissions, road accidents, extra policing. Junk food, sugary fizzy drinks and couch potato lifestyles are normalising obesity – and as parents, a third of us can’t now spot when our own child is seriously overweight.
“So we’ve got a choice. Condemn our children to a rising tide of avoidable diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer? And burden taxpayers with an NHS bill far exceeding an extra £8 billion by 2020? Or take wide ranging action – as families, as the health service, as government, as industry. Using the full range of tools at our disposal.”
Louise Ansari, Diabetes UK Director of Prevention of Type 2 diabetes, welcomed the comments. She said: “The NHS England, and Public Health England plans for a National Diabetes Prevention Programme, in partnership with Diabetes UK, is a positive step in the right direction as it will play a significant role in identifying those at high risk of Type 2 diabetes and helping them to reduce their risk. But in order to get the most out of this programme we also need to see a coordinated system-wide approach, which includes marketing restrictions on unhealthy foods to children, legislation to reformulate foods to reduce overall calorie intake, measures to make unhealthy foods less appealing and greater investment being put into encouraging people to cycle, walk, and be more active generally.
“Parents also have an important role to play in encouraging their children to develop healthy eating habits from early on in life, that they will hopefully continue to follow throughout life. It is important to note, however, that Type 1 diabetes, which the vast majority of children with diabetes have, cannot be prevented and is in no way related to diet or lifestyle.”
There are now more than three million people who are living with Type 2 diabetes.