The difference between Type one and Type two diabetes
It is estimated that around four million people suffer from diabetes and its associated complications, which include blindness, amputation and eventually, death.
Now, top doctors specialising in the disease have criticised the National Health Service, saying millions could be saved by patients dieting and losing weight.
Tahseen Chowdhury of Barts NHS Trust, London, said the health service had taken the wrong approach to the disease.
Mr Chowdhury says that improvements could be made if the NHS stopped treating diabetes as a permanent condition.
Diabetes could be better combatted by weight reduction than medication, say experts
The Government probably lacks the scope or impact to make significant inroads into the public health crisis of rising diabetes prevalence.”
They say diabetes should be treated as a curable disease that would be better combatted by immediately assigning patents to intensive diets, backed by weight loss drugs.
Writing in the Royal College of Physicians’ Clinical Medicine Journal, Chowdhury welcomed recent initiatives such as the controversial "Sugar tax" on fizzy drinks.
He said: “The Government probably lacks the scope or impact to make significant inroads into the public health crisis of rising diabetes prevalence.”
The doctor cited a UK case study from 2017, in which patients were put on meal-replacement supplements for 12 weeks and stopped their medication, before reintroducing a controlled food-based diet.
Nearly half of those who took part on this crash diet sent their diabetes into remission.
But Mr Chowdhury said while some questions remained unanswered, the findings pointed to alternative to medication such as insulin.
Writing in the report, he said: “These data suggest that the focus for diabetes care, at least in the early phase of the disease, should be on weight reduction, which might lead to remission of the condition.”
THE NHS spends around £12 BILLION a year on treating type 2 diabetes. A further 550,000 people are thought to suffer from Type 2 diabetes but are unaware they have it.
Mr Chowdhury’s findings echo comments made by nursing consultant and diabetes specialist Debbie Hicks on the struggle the NHS faces treating diabetes patients.
The co-founder of TREND-UK (Training, Research and Education for Nurses in Diabetes-UK) warned of “a ticking time bomb” in diabetes care which will get worse unless changes are made.
Ms Hicks said that almost 12 million people are at increased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes and if current trends continue, an estimated five million people will have developed the disease by 2025.
Writing in the Nursing Times, Ms Hicks said there "are more people needing help in primary care, but when they are referred on to see a diabetes specialist nurse, there may not be one.
"These people with diabetes are becoming more complex and we just don't have the specialist nurses to support them."