Diabetes detection rises by 10%

Diabetes is more common in people living in socially deprived areas and in people from ethnic minorities, GMS prevalence data for 2005/6 has confirmed.

The highest prevalence of diabetes was 5.4 per cent and was found throughout Wales, South Yorkshire, Birmingham and parts of London, such as the north-east, according to the data.

Dr Colin Kenny, chairman of the Primary Care Diabetes Society and a GP in County Down, Northern Ireland, said that the patterns of prevalence were consistent with that seen in the previous year.

‘They confirm that type-2 diabetes is a disease of social deprivation linked to poverty and that it is also partially associated with concentrations of ethnic minorities,’ he said.

Dr Colin Greaves, a researcher in primary care who has worked on diabetes screening at Peninsula Medical School, Exeter in Devon, said that areas with substantial Asian or Afro–Caribbean populations would be expected to have a high prevalence of diabetes. High  prevalence was found in Birmingham and London, areas that contain large populations of Asian and Afro– Caribbean people.

But the high prevalence of diabetes found throughout Wales may be down to the Welsh Assembly’s active backing and encouragement for a systemic screening programme for diabetes, said Dr Greaves.

The patchiness of the map does not reflect the true underlying prevalence of diabetes, as there is still a large amount of undetected diabetes, he said.

‘But we have seen a 10 per cent rise in diabetes detection, nationally, over the last year. The efforts of primary care health professionals in realising this increase are to be praised,’ added Dr Greaves.

‘Indeed, we should expect the figures across the country to continue to rise for another few years at least, especially if the National Screening Committee’s proposed national heart disease prevention screening system, which includes blood sugar testing, is implemented.’

As the population ages and becomes increasingly obese, the prevalence of diabetes is likely to rise dramatically unless action is taken, warned Dr Greaves.

The public needs to start adopting more pro-active strategies for managing its lifestyles and future health, he added.

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