A mapping study into areas where people are at most risk of developing type 2 diabetes has shown that parts of east London have been prone to poverty and ill health for the last hundred years or more. When the researchers from Queen Mary, University of London, compared their diabetes map with that produced by the Victorian reformist Charles Booth at the end of the 19th century, there were strong similarities found.
The study, set up to assist local authorities and NHS services in targeting their resources, mapped out the London boroughs of Hackney, Tower Hamlets and Newham, finding that type 2 diabetes – a condition closely associated with poverty and South Asian ethnicity – was still highly prevalent there.
The modern mapping system eschewed the Victorian method of observation in favour of using the electronic records from doctor surgeries in the area, involving over half a million people in these boroughs. Although around one in ten adults in the population can be classified as at high risk from diabetes, the survey revealed that up to 17 per cent were at risk in these areas.
Study leader Douglas Noble commented “It was no surprise to see that diabetes risk is high in areas where poverty was high. What was surprising was that some of these pockets of deprivation and ill health have persisted for over 100 years.”
He added “But unlike in Booth’s time, we now know how diseases like diabetes can be prevented.”

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