THE number of Wigan people suffering with diabetes is far higher than first thought – with 100 new cases diagnosed every month.
National charity Diabetes UK published figures this month estimating that the borough is home to 13,468 diabetics.
But Wigan’s director of public health Dr Kate Ardern revealed today that the condition is an even bigger one – with more than 17,000 patients recorded.
She said: “The prevalence of diabetes has been rising steadily for years. Every month we have nearly 100 people newly diagnosed with the disease.”
Diabetes UK’s figures represents 7.3 per cent of people in Wigan aged 16 and over who live with the condition and the number has increased by 368 since last year.
About 90 per cent of diagnosed diabetes cases are type two which can lead to heart attack, amputation, blindness and early death.
Dr Ardern said: “The number of people with type one diabetes, which tends to affect people younger, even in childhood, has not changed very much over the years.
“It is the type two diabetes which is increasing so rapidly. The rise is linked to two factors – increasing age of the population, and secondly increasing obesity, particularly a large waist measurement. Being heavier than you should be is a key factor associated with type two diabetes.
“Wigan Council has commissioned significant public health programmes such as Lose Weight Feel Great to support people to manage their weight and become more physically active, which will have an important impact on the prevention and management of type two Diabetes.
“The good news is that we have seen a downward trend in the prevalence of obesity locally from 28.5 per cent in 2009 to 25.8 per cent in 2012 the borough is one of the very few areas to show such a significant reduction.
“We have also seen an increase in levels of physical activity from 21.3 per cent in 2005 to a 25.6 per cent figure for 2012 – we are the only area in Greater Manchester to show a significant increase and we are higher than the North West and the national average
“Wigan has also commissioned a new initiative to target people who have blood sugar levels which are higher than normal, but not yet high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes.
“The condition is known as Impaired Glucose Tolerance (IGT) and people with this condition have been invited to take part in a programme of up to six months support from a health trainer to support them to achieve goals such as losing weight and increasing their physical activity.
“This programme is being rolled out to all the GP practices in the borough.”
Starting in January a new education programme – comprising a one-day intensive course – will be available for all people newly diagnosed with type two. They should attend this course within the first week or two of being diagnosed, to get them started on the right path of eating healthily, quitting smoking, keeping their blood pressure under control and having the annual checks of their feet and eyes.