One in ten adults over the age of 55 in Ireland have type 2 diabetes, according to the country’s latest public health statistics.
The figures, which also show that more than 40,000 adults aged 45 and over have type 2 diabetes but are unaware of their condition (undiagnosed diabetes), suggest that diabetes rates in the country are fast approaching epidemic levels due to ever-increasing cases of obesity.
“We are sleeping our way as a society into an epidemic of diabetes,” said Limerick-based GP, Dr Ray O’Connor.
“This is threatening to bankrupt our healthcare systems within a generatio, as increasing numbers of patients are managed with increasing numbers of increasingly expensive drugs .”
Dr O’Connor insisted that “instead of just sitting and watching the inevitable increase in obesity”, the government needs to take a “bold approach” to tackle this issue and prevent an obesity-related diabetes epidemic.
Commenting on ways to prevent obesity from occurring, he suggested the introduction of a fat tax to make high fat foods more expensive; better education for children on the benefits of a good diet, especially kids from lower socioeconomic groups; and making sure that neighbourhoods are safe and have good ‘walkability’.
For those already diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, he explained that there needs to be a lot more focus on diet, exercise and other lifestyle measures, as these can halt and even reverse the disease without producing any of the side effects associated with some diabetes drugs .

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