Sugar down the hatch, money down the drain…

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Every now and then you read a statistic which just really grabs you and makes you want to scream at the screen. This morning this happened to me twice. Firstly I read the staggering fact that 1/10 of all money spent by the NHS goes on diabetes! When you consider the sheer volume that the NHS budgets have to cover, from intensive care to trauma medicine, from cancer treatment to birthing wards, the proportion spent on just one entirely preventable disease is utterly mind blowing.

The article went on to explain that the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) have proposed to offer weight loss surgery (costing between £3,000 and £15,000) to diabetic patients with a BMI of 30 or more which amounts to around 850,000 patients. The figure may be even higher as those of Asian descent are to be considered at lower unspecified BMIs. Unsurprisingly NICE has raised concerns that the NHS will not be able to afford this. Surely some of this money would be far better spent getting this individuals onto weight loss programmes!

What will it take for the Government to realise that prevention has to be prioritised more than it currently is. Firstly, there should be a sugar tax so that those who choose to consume foods and beverages packed full of added sugar are at least footing more of this bill for these ridiculous treatment costs. Secondly, the efforts to make people aware of dangers of smoking need to be applied to the sugar industry – including clear and visible health warnings on food and beverage packaging.

The second statistic I read is that the number of Alzheimer’s patients is set to triple by 2050. What many people do not know is that there is a wealth of scientific research supporting the view that raised blood sugar levels are slowing rotting our brains leading to cognitive decline and dementia – so much so that some leading experts in this area are terming Alzheimer’s as Type 3 diabetes. The recent increased Government focus on dementia is promising but important research on the dietary factors is just not getting enough focus yet. Surely this is yet another reason that the Government needs to seriously rethink how to reduce the sugar in our diet and raise awareness of sugar’s adverse health effects.

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