HEALTH experts are calling for tough new measures to combat obesity in deprived communities as the number of Scots suffering from diabetes has soared to nearly 292,000.

New figures show that 7,589 Scots have been diagnosed with diabetes since 2015 and more Scots will suffer from it than cancer and dementia combined if current trends continue.

Diabetes is a condition where there is too much glucose in the blood because the body cannot use it properly.

Loading article content

If it is not treated, both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes can lead to serious complications including cardiovascular disease, stroke, lower limb amputation and sight loss.

NHS Scotland spends over £1 billion annually treating diabetes and its complications but according to campaigners by 2035 more than 470,000 people in Scotland will be diagnosed with the condition.

There are now 291,981 people in Scotland currently living with diabetes, and around 1million Scots are at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes - largely due to obesity.

The most effective way of preventing Type 2 diabetes is maintaining a healthy weight, eating a balanced diet, being more active.

Unlike Type 1 diabetes which cannot be prevented, up to three in five cases of Type 2 diabetes can be prevented or delayed by adopting a healthier lifestyle, eating a balanced diet and getting more active.

But on current trends experts predict that 40 per cent of Scottish adults will be obese by 2030 with around half a million projected to be living with diabetes by 2035.

The total cost of diabetes to Scotland's economy - including direct care and indirect costs - was estimated at £2.37 billion in 2015, but this is on track to hit £3.98bn in 20 years time.

Jane-Claire Judson, National Director of Diabetes Scotland, said: “Diabetes is the fastest growing health crisis of our time; affecting more people than any other serious health condition in Scotland.

“We have to find solutions now to enable us to manage the increasing pressure on our health services.

"Smarter investment in diabetes care, support services and emerging technologies will help people to live well and reduce their risk of developing life-limiting complications; resulting in health and economic benefits to individuals, families and NHS Scotland.

“We need to do more to transform the obesogenic environment in which we live, particularly in communities experiencing multiple deprivation. "People must be supported to adopt a healthy lifestyle and measures must be in place to ensure that the healthy choice is the easy choice.

"The promotion of healthy living has to be intrinsic to all decisions made in Scotland from town planning and regeneration, to our children’s education. "

“We would urge the Scottish Government to be ambitious as it drafts Scotland’s new Obesity Strategy and the Type 2 Diabetes Prevention Framework.

"If these plans fail to drive significant change, we will be blighting the future health and wellbeing of Scotland’s people."

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “This report echoes the findings of the most recent Scottish Diabetes Survey. As in previous years, the number of people living with diabetes in Scotland is increasing.
"However, this is not because we are seeing a great increase in the number of new cases, but rather people with diabetes are living longer with the condition.
“As well as being linked to age there is also is a well-established link between Type 2 diabetes and obesity. As this report rightly notes supporting people to lead a healthy lifestyle is crucial. We are taking concerted action to tackling Scotland’s obesity problems and will consult on our new diet and obesity strategy this year, building on our wide range of activity to make it easier for people to be more active, eat less, and eat better.
“We have also formed an expert group to lead on the development and implementation of a diabetes prevention framework, which will complement our wider health strategy, to identify high risk population, support early diagnosis, treatment, education and lifestyle management.”