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Diabetes ‘time bomb’ predicted in 2007 has finally gone off, with 17,600 people diagnosed in Tower Hamlets

PUBLISHED: 07:00 27 February 2019

Diabetes clinic set up at Mile End Hospital in 2007 when 'timebomb' was predicted. Picture: NHS Tower Hamlets

Diabetes clinic set up at Mile End Hospital in 2007 when 'timebomb' was predicted. Picture: NHS Tower Hamlets

Picture: NHS Tower Hamlets

Another 700 people have been diagnosed with diabetes in just 12 months in Tower Hamlets alone, latest statistics reveal.

Diabetes numbers have shot up in the East End from 10,500 in 2007 to almost 18,000 today. Picture: NHS Tower HamletsDiabetes numbers have shot up in the East End from 10,500 in 2007 to almost 18,000 today. Picture: NHS Tower Hamlets

The number rose from under 17,000 a year ago to 17,658, and compares to just 10,500 in 2007 which was considered back then as an epidemic “time bomb” about to go off.

Now, 12 years on, it is affecting nearly seven-out-of-every-100 of the East End’s population, slightly higher than the national average of 6.5 per cent.

Many more may be living with Type 2 diabetes who don’t know it because they haven’t been diagnosed, health experts warn.

The dramatic increase in obesity rates is the main cause, the Diabetes UK charity warns, with three-in-five adults overweight or obese.

Cancer Research UK created a school uniform shop highlighting how XL uniforms could become 'the norm' if  stronger action to tackle child obesity isn't taken. Picture: Adrian Brooks/ImagewiseCancer Research UK created a school uniform shop highlighting how XL uniforms could become 'the norm' if stronger action to tackle child obesity isn't taken. Picture: Adrian Brooks/Imagewise

Age and ethnic background can also contribute to the risk, particularly among Asian and Black communities which are twice or four times more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes.

“Thousands of cases could be prevented if people understand the risk,” Diabetes UK’s Roz Rosenblatt said. “It’s never too early to make diet and lifestyle changes to prevent or delay diabetes.

“Early diagnosis means fewer people will experience complications such as sight loss, amputation, kidney failure, stroke and heart disease.”

The symptoms can involve going to the toilet a lot, being really thirsty, feeling more tired than usual and losing weight without trying, which are easy to miss in the early stages and can go undetected for years. The charity is urging those over 40 to take free NHS health checks.

Poplar and Limehouse MP Jim Fitzpatrick backing Diabetes UK charity's shock 'State of the Nation' report launched in Parliament in 2013. Picture: Diabetes UKPoplar and Limehouse MP Jim Fitzpatrick backing Diabetes UK charity's shock 'State of the Nation' report launched in Parliament in 2013. Picture: Diabetes UK

The East End has a devastating history of rising obesity and diabetes rates over the past 15 years, including child obesity.

There were 10,500 people, including 100 children, with the condition recorded in Tower Hamlets in 2007, when NHS health chiefs predicted the “diabetes time bomb” leading to what was feared could be a major epidemic. The figure shot up to 16,000 by 2016 and is approaching 18,000 this year.

Poplar and Limehouse MP Jim Fitzpatrick spoke of being “locked in a battle with childhood obesity” back in 2013 at a British Heart Foundation summit held at the Commons. He called for a curb on junk food TV ads to protect youngsters and for help for parents to make better choices about meals at home. One-in-four East End 10-year-olds that year were obese.

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