The NHS in the UK is diagnosing and treating more and more people each year for type 2 diabetes.
As a result, the cost to the NHS has more than doubled in the last ten years to £1.07 billion in 2018/19.
Now, 13% of the NHS budget for drugs is consumed by this lifestyle disease and this cost is projected to keep on rising. Interestingly, 90% of the 4.7 million people with diabetes have type 2.
This non communicable disease is also growing around the world. While it is a huge strain on NHS finances, for people in countries without access subsidised treatments it is a major strain on family finances.
But what if type 2 diabetes was reversible?
The cost of treatment would reduce and individuals would see a dramatic improvement in their health and well-being.
Doctors, nurses, pharmacies and hospitals would be freed up to treat other ailments.
Medical training budgets could be redirected etc, etc.
Is Type 2 diabetes is reversible?
Yes it is.
Simply by a change of diet.
Is it that simple?
In principle it is simple. Diabetes UK has shown that reducing carbohydrate intake and increasing healthy fats can be the solution.
What are healthy fats?
Fats found in macadamia nuts are proven to lower risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, oxidative stress and can assist in weight management.
However our current food systems and sedentary lifestyle are almost a perfect recipe for this looming catastrophe. Type 2 diabetes causing foods have almost completely dominated all the packaged food we buy and consume. This includes processed food with high sugar, carbohydrates, and cheap, poor quality vegetable oils are cheap.
Who are the winners and losers?
The winners are:
- Big pharmaceutical with no sign of this global epidemic slowing down and the potential to expand treatments.
- Cheap food production which is dominated by global food giants.
The losers are the rest of society as family after family face the personal cost of the consequences of this disease.
How big is the challenge to reverse the rise in type 2 diabetes?
It comes down to personal choice about what we eat. In principle that sounds simple and achievable. However, introducing healthy fats like macadamia and reducing carbohydrate consumption is more expensive for the individual.
Are we therefore caught in a trap that we can’t escape from?
The global rise in type 2 diabetes would suggest the answer is "yes".
The food bill increase also suggests the answer is "yes".
But one by one we can each take responsibility to eat more nutritious food and exercise more.
Instead of drug based treatments the same resources could be used to help change food systems to healthier more sustainable forms of restorative farming and food production to protect people and the planet.