A local and national campaigner for diabetes awareness from Pinner said the growing obesity problem in the UK must be tackled on multiple fronts.
Lis Warren, from Pinner, has lived with Type 1 diabetes, an autoimmune condition not related to weight, since 1965. She has to balance her food intake and insulin injections meticulously each time she eats.
She said: “Manufacturers must be forced to improve the nutritional quality and labelling of their products, if necessary via legislation. And local authorities should ensure fast food outlets selling poor quality food are not sited close to schools.”
“In many cases being obese is not a lifestyle choice, overeating can be a way of managing one’s feelings. I think the NHS should offer better psychological support for those addicted to unhealthy over eating. As bad habits begin early, I believe schools should teach nutrition and cookery skills alongside basic health literacy.
“Type 2 diabetes can also have genetic causes, particularly in certain ethnic groups. Where that risk is compounded by being overweight, education to avoid the latter is essential. Sadly, the consequences of life threatening diabetes complications will have been witnessed in the families of many young people in Harrow. An early education about these risks would make youngsters better placed to influence their family’s eating habits and health.”
As someone who has been counting the carbohydrate value of every item she eats for over 50 years, Lis is also in favour of all products and restaurant meals being clearly labelled.
Lis added: “Without accurate information, dosage mistakes can be made and if newly diagnosed, you’ve not had training or you’re not good at maths, diabetes emergencies are possible. Diabetes related A&E admissions cost tax payers a fortune and some could be avoided if food labelling was improved.”
Following Diabetes UK’s Food Upfront campaign, Helen Dickens, assistant director of campaigns and mobilisation at the organisation, said: “We already know that people living with diabetes want more information about what’s in the food and drink they buy, but what’s interesting is understanding how the availability of better nutritional labelling influences the spending habits of the public as a whole.
“The public have an appetite to see better information about the food they’re buying, and they’re willing to vote with their wallets. It’s not just good for the health of the public; it’s also good for business.
“The British public have spoken, and it’s time for government to act, and take this simple, bold step to improving the health of the nation.”