This year let’s stand up to the challenge of diabetes – by Keith Vaz MP

The arrival of 2018 gives us the opportunity to urgently review the scale of the diabetes challenge facing us in Leicester and the UK.

I will be urging all parliamentary colleagues to read Diabetes UK’s Future of Diabetes report. The report features views of more than 9,000 people with diabetes – one of the biggest consultations of its kind – makes clear that while there have been some great improvements to the care and treatment of diabetes, we are still very far from a world where diabetes does no harm.

People who took part in the consultation say that they want hope for the future through better treatments, the prevention of Type 2 diabetes, and ultimately a cure. This is very important. Though often wrongly seen as a mild condition, a diagnosis of diabetes is very serious. It requires constant self-management, including daily injections of insulin for the rest of your life if you have Type 1 diabetes or insulin-controlled Type 2 diabetes. Poorly-managed diabetes can lead to devastating complications.

Diabetes is the leading cause of preventable sight loss in people of working age in the UK and is a major cause of lower limb amputation, kidney failure and stroke, which costs the NHS £10 billion a year.

Next spring will see the introduction of the soft drinks industry levy, which will help us all to reduce our consumption of sugar. This is important because diets that are high in sugar can lead to Type 2 diabetes. But no single measure will be enough on its own. While the Government should be commended for forging ahead with the levy, it must now go further.

To help prevent further cases of Type 2 diabetes, and spiralling costs to the NHS, we need the Government to ban price promotions on unhealthy foods, introduce mandatory front-of-pack traffic light food labels and toughen restrictions on junk food advertising.

With almost two in every three adults, and around a third of primary school aged children overweight or obese by the time they leave primary school, we can’t afford to wait any longer. So as the new year begins, let’s make it the year we finally stand up to the challenge of diabetes.

(Main photo from left, Keith, Sue Hayman MP and Jon Ashworth MP)

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