Type 2 diabetes in Nottinghamshire labelled ‘health timebomb’ in children

Type 2 diabetes in children has been described as a “health time bomb” during a meeting about tackling the problem in Nottinghamshire.
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Diabetes is a disorder that causes a person’s blood sugar level to become too high.

Type 1 diabetes is treatable, but not currently preventable, whereas Type 2 can be preventable.

County health leaders from the county gave a briefing on the situation to Nottinghamshire Council’s health scrutiny committee.

Nottinghamshire County Council\'s County Hall headquarters. Picture: Local Democracy ServiceNottinghamshire County Council\'s County Hall headquarters. Picture: Local Democracy Service
Nottinghamshire County Council\'s County Hall headquarters. Picture: Local Democracy Service

Tabitha Randell, a consultant in paediatric diabetes, said that during the coronavirus pandemic, the number of children in Year 6 who were overweight in the county went from 20 per cent to 25 per cent.

She described one patient, a 10-year-old girl with Type 2 diabetes, who gained nine stones in 18 months during the pandemic.

In Nottinghamshire, there are currently 69,065 people aged 15 and over with Type 2 diabetes and a further 6,285 people with Type 1, with higher prevalences in Bassetlaw.

Treating diabetes costs 10 per cent of the NHS budget, 80 per cent of which is spent on treating preventable complications. For this reason, the NHS has a focus on the prevention of diabetes including encouraging the uptake of lifestyle services and low-calorie diets.

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Ms Randell said: “In Nottinghamshire, we’ve one of the biggest children’s diabetes centres in the country.

“We’ve seen a big increase in the number of young people with a diagnosis since Covid.

“We have seen a trebling in the number of children being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes since Covid and it is entirely weight-related, so an entirely preventable and reversible condition.

“If you develop Type 2 in young adulthood, it is a much more aggressive disease.

“The complications of diabetes such as eye damage, kidney damage and heart attacks, are far more likely if you have Type 2.

“We need to do something to stop the rising tide of obesity we are seeing.

“This is a massive health timebomb and we need to do something as a system to help support these families.

“We can’t prevent type 1, but type 2 is preventable and that’s what’s got me really worried at the moment.”

Coun John Wilmott said: “We have a serious problem on our hands with obesity rising.

“People seem to be doing less physical activity. We’ve got to get people to change their lifestyles otherwise the rise in diabetes will carry on.”

Councillors also discussed recruitment and retention problems within the field.

Rahul Mohan, a GP with a specialist interest in diabetes, said diabetes specialist nurses are “like gold dust” and can take between 18 months and two years to train. He said many of the people in these roles currently are looking to retire.

Ms Randell said it is a national issue and added: “If our current cohort retires, at the moment we haven’t got a queue of people coming through.”

The NHS is delivering a new programme which provides a low-calorie diet treatment for people who are overweight and living with Type 2 diabetes. This involves people using soups, shakes and bars to consume between 600 and 900 calories a day.