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Diabetes costs “could bankrupt NHS”
The future of the NHS is at risk because the cost of treating diabetes in the UK could hit £17 billion by 2035. Public Health England says there are currently 4.5 million people in the UK with diabetes, mainly type 2, but that will soon rise to 5 million because obesity is out of control. (England is doing badly here: more than two-thirds of men (ie more than 60%) and almost six in ten women are overweight or obese.) The current cost of treating diabetes is £10 billion a year, which is nearly 10% of the health service’s entire budget.
National clinical director for obesity and diabetes at NHS England, Prof Jonathan Valabhji has said: “We need to stem the tide, otherwise we could see a crisis and there are issues of sustainability for the NHS if we do nothing differently”. Ironically, the chief executive of Diabetes UK Chris Askew has also been quoted in this vein: “As things stand”, he said, “we are certainly looking at a crisis in diabetes which threatens to bankrupt the NHS if we continue with these current trends…we really need concerted action right across society for us to fund more research, provide best possible care and crucially prevent so many cases of type 2 – in future”.
Ironically, because Diabetes UK last month agreed a £500,000 sponsorship deal with Britvic, the marketer and distributor of sugar-laden products like Pepsi, Tango and various fruit squashes, cordials and lemonades.
Meanwhile, a global study out of Stanford has predicted a 20% rise in insulin use by 2030 – but around half of the 79 million adults with type 2 diabetes won’t get it, due to access problems and soaring costs. Insulin treatment can cost around £700 a month. There are only three major manufacturers of insulin: Novo Nordisk, Sanofi, and Lilly. The three companies were hit with a lawsuit last year accused of conspiring to drive up the price of insulin. A study in JAMA found that the price nearly tripled from 2002 to 2013.
We know diabetes can be cured. The “other” diabetes charity, Diabetes.co.uk, has wisely commented that despite all the dire predictions, increasingly reliable research is showing how people with type 2 diabetes can come off insulin by eating a healthy, real-food diet. “The one-year health outcomes from our Low Carb Program were published earlier this year which showed that reduced dependency on medications, including insulin, were among the programme’s benefits”.
More than 40% of people with type 2 diabetes who start the Low Carb Program on medication eliminate a drug from their treatment plan by the one-year mark. Prof Roy Taylor from Newcastle University has also shown it is possible to reverse type 2 by following a strict diet of 800 calories a day, while in South Africa, Prof Tim Noakes is leading a resurgence of a Banting-style low-carb diet that is also having great success – and impacting Type 1 as well.
It’s getting to the point where, rather than sympathising with diabetics, society needs to recognise that Type 2, at least, is more of a lifestyle choice, a temporary health disorder, than a random disease. And people could also choose to fix it.
Proof of concept has also come from an unexpected source, with more attention being paid to Dr Dale Bredesen’s protocol for Alzheimer’s now that he has published a paper based on 100 patients AND has launched an all-in one package for getting the necessary tests done to enable his nutrition-based approach to be personalised (see news, page 7). Prof Noakes and others are routinely describing Alzheimer’s as Type 3 diabetes.
SIMON MARTIN, EDITOR
Keep up with Simon on Twitter@simoncamedit
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