£5m cost of obesity

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OBESITY is costing Wigan taxpayers almost £5m a year in medication to tackle Type 2 Diabetes.

Shock new figures released through the Health and Social Care Information Centre reveal that, as well as having the third highest prevalence rate for diabetes in the region, Wigan borough has paid out £4,752,000 in prescriptions for medication related to the condition. That’s £297 per diabetic person.

Experts say more than 90 per cent of this is from Type 2 Diabetes, which is often caused by an unhealthy lifestyle.

Some five per cent of the borough’s population are known to be being treated for diabetes - around 16,000 people - but health chiefs expect this number to rise dramatically in the years to come.

Dr Kate Ardern, executive director for public health for the borough of Wigan, said: “Diabetes is a long term condition that, if poorly managed, may result in long term illness or premature death.

“However, a healthier lifestyle that includes healthy eating, weight management and exercise can help reduce symptoms and prevent diabetes.

“A free NHS Health Check is available from local GPs for everyone between 40 and 75 years old that can detect diabetes and other conditions.”

Health officials are warning of the financial impact on the NHS.

This growth in diabetes drug prescription numbers is faster and greater than for prescriptions overall, where items have increased by 33 per cent.

Dr Tim Dalton, local GP and chairman of Wigan Borough Clinical Commissioning Group (WBCCG), said: “Good management of medicines prescribed to local diabetic patients across Wigan Borough means we now have one of the best treatment services in the North West.

“Diabetic patients in Wigan borough are more likely to achieve better control of their diabetes to a higher standard and at a lower overall prescribing cost.”

Barbara Young, chief executive of Diabetes UK, said it was a wake-up call to all concerned.

She said: “We face the real possibility of diabetes bankrupting the NHS within a generation.

“This is why we need to grasp the nettle on preventing Type 2 diabetes, which accounts for around 90 per cent of diabetes cases.

“We need a government-funded awareness-raising campaign on the risk factors and symptoms of Type 2 diabetes and we need to get much better at identifying people at high risk so they can be given the support they need to prevent the condition.”