Today is World Diabetes Day, a global campaign to raise the profile of the condition, which is expected to affect more than four million people in the UK by 2025.
We are facing a huge increase in the number of people with diabetes, partly because of our ageing population, but also because of rising numbers people who are overweight and obese. In Bristol, as nationally, numbers continue to rise, but one in two people with diabetes don’t know they have it. This has to change.
Many people are unaware that risk of type 2 diabetes is linked to ethnicity. Type 2 diabetes is up to six times more common in people of South Asian descent and up to three times more common among people of African and African-Caribbean origin.
As a diverse city, we need to come together to support all communities, enabling them to take preventative action and manage the condition if they are diagnosed.
Diabetes is a serious condition, but the good news is that the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, and of complications for those with the condition, can be reduced with simple lifestyle changes such as maintaining a healthy weight and increasing physical activity.
As a city, we are taking action. Bristol was one of the first places to achieve Sugar Smart City status two years ago, and the Council has since been running the Bristol Eating Better Awards to help local restaurants and takeaway to offer healthier options. We’re also looking to increase the exclusion zone around schools and youth clubs for new fast food places through the review of the Local Plan.
There are a number of organisations doing fantastic work across Bristol to offer much-needed services to people with diabetes and their carers. One such organisation is Bristol Community Health, who recognise that language barriers can prevent people from BAME communities from accessing care. That’s why they work with Health Link translators to reach those groups most as risk. Diabetes UK is another, with a local network of support groups in different parts of the city who meet monthly to learn more about the condition, share experiences and support one another.
This World Diabetes Day, we want you to join us in taking action. The first step to preventing type 2 diabetes is knowing your risk, and I want to encourage more people to find out theirs using the International Diabetes Federation’s online interactive tool.
For more information on the symptoms of diabetes and what to do if you think you might have the condition, visit the NHS website.
By working together we can close the gaps between rich and poor in Bristol, address health inequalities experienced by different communities and make sure everyone can enjoy and experience life to the fullest.