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Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Clear link between increased rates of diabetes and obesity

A new report into increased rates of diabetes illustrates a clear link between type 2diabetes and obesity. The rate at which the condition has gone up is really quite staggering, 74% over a six year period.

As well as the link between more people being over-weight and more people being diagnosed with the condition, another reason for the leap in the number of cases can be put down to the fact that GPs are more alert to the symptoms, hence detecting more cases.

If you do have diabetes AND are overweight, it should really be taken as a warning to start leading more of a healthy lifestyle, combining exercise with sensible eating. The Welsh Assembly Government is trying to help us with this, through the work of Health Challenge Wales, which is running such initiatives as free swimming (Children aged 16 and under can use public swimming pools at certain times during holiday periods, free of charge) community food co-ops (fresh fruit and vegetables direct from a local supplier, so you pay wholesale prices and support your local community), and Lets Walk Cymru (There are a number of opportunities for you to join groups who participate in regular walks).

Wales' Chief Medical Officer's latest annual report, released late last year also highlighted some very positive plus points, not least the fact that people here are living longer and that deaths from heart disease and strokes are continuing to fall. So there is some indication of change for the better in the health of people in Wales, yet we’ve still some way to go, as the rise in diabetes cases shows.

One way to make further in-roads into tackling obesity, particularly amongst children, would be for the WAG, to work with Local Authorities in Wales and organisations like BMA Cymru and Sustrans, to put together a major joint strategy, identifying all major walk to school routes and roll-out a programme of 20mph zones across all parts of Wales.

We favour 20mph speed limits in urban areas, and particularly around schools, as a way of encouraging more of us to walk and cycle. Hopefully, this kind of initiative, if implemented, would help the vast majority of us to get more fit and active as part of our daily routine.

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