Finance shortfall could halt unique diabetes and obesity study

Mon, 14 Aug 2006
A shortfall of £40,000 could threaten the completion of a study into childhood obesity and diabetes. The Department of Health have declined funding .

The study, called the EarlyBird, was carried out at the Peninsula Medical School in Plymouth. They will lay off some staff at the end of this month, following the withdrawal of a little under 50 per cent of the money promised.

According to one doctor heading the study, the research may well fold. The study is unique in taking annual blood tests from children, beginning at age five. They aim was to chart the link between weight and metabolic changes.

The need to tackle childhood obesity is now evident. Preventing diabetes at an early stage is surely the only way to decrease the 10 per cent of NHS budget currently spent on the disease. The public health white paper aimed to halt the year-on-year rise in obesity amongst children under 11.

Tony Blair, speaking on the diabetes issue in June, said: "Ten per cent of NHS resources are used to treat diabetes. By 2010 the estimate is that this could double. That is 20% of the entire resources of the NHS - and it's avoidable."

Professor Wilkin, speaking on the study, said: "There is a gap between government rhetoric on childhood obesity and its preparedness to fund the research that it has so often been advised it needs - and EarlyBird has fallen foul of it. There has been very powerful rhetoric about the problem of childhood diabetes but no funding to undertake the research to provide the government with the information on which to act."
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