Some parts of the UK have much higher rates of diabetes than others.

In 2013 Brent, an area in North London was found to have a prevalence of type 2 diabetes mellitus of 10.5 %. This was, in 2013 almost double the rate of diabetes compared with another area of London the City of London (the central borough of London) which had the lowest rate of diabetes in England of 5.5%.

See: Brent ‘worst borough for diabetes’

It was also reported that the London boroughs Newham, Harrow and Redbridge also have among the highest rates in England.

A Brent GP said the high rate was partly due to the high level of diagnosis as well as the ethnic mix and other factors.

He said money was being spent on detection and education.

The figures have been analysed by Diabetes UK and have come from Yorkshire and Humber Health Intelligence, which runs the National Diabetes Information Service.

People from the Afro-Caribbean and South Asian communities are most at risk of diabetes, said Diabetes UK, with people of Indian, Bangladeshi or Pakistani origin six times more likely to develop it than white people.

The 2011 census showed Brent had the highest proportion of non-UK born residents in London.

diabetes awareness day brent cross
Diabetes awareness day Brent Cross 2016

Dr Ajit Shah runs a GP practice in Kenton Road in Brent where the diabetes rate among patients is even higher than the borough’s at 12.4%.

Asked why the prevalence of diabetes is so high, he said it was partly because the borough had been proactive in diagnosing cases but also because of the ethnic mix of the population, diet, lack of exercise and obesity.

He said: “It has an impact on general health. Diabetics are more at risk of developing heart disease, strokes, blindness and kidney disease.”

He said Brent’s clinical commissioning group for which he is a clinical director is planning to invest more in detection, diagnostics and education.

Diabetes UK believes there are about 80,000 people living in London with undiagnosed type 2 diabetes.

Roz Rosenblatt of Diabetes UK said: “The problem is that within communities, if everyone you know has diabetes, then it becomes almost normal for that community.”

She added: “It’s probably the biggest public health threat that we have in the 21st Century.”

Move forward to 2019

The figures for 2019 show a slight drop for the prevalence of diabetes in Brent, and the area of Harrow now has the greatest rate of type 2 diabetes in London and the UK. But overall the prevalence has increased in the last 6 years.

Perhaps the shock of the figures in 2013 has produced improvement in the health of Brent.

The latest figures for London

In London, some boroughs have prevalence rates which are among the highest in the country while other boroughs have the lowest prevalence rates in the country.

The boroughs with the highest prevalence of diabetes are Harrow (9.58%), Brent (8.91%), Redbridge (8.66%), Newham (8.57%) and Ealing (8.24%).

The boroughs with the lowest prevalence rates are Richmond (3.7%), Camden (4.01%) Westminster (4.02), Hammersmith & Fulham (4.24%) and Wandsworth (4.34%).

The London average prevalence is 6.51%.

Obesity is the main cause

The dramatic increase in obesity rates is the main driver behind so many more people living with Type 2 diabetes in the UK. Three in five adults in England are overweight or obese, and while not every case of Type 2 diabetes is caused by excessive weight, it is the single greatest risk factor for developing the condition.

Age, family history, and ethnicity can also contribute to someone’s risk, with people of African-Caribbean, Black African, or South Asian descent two to four times more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes than white people.

Many cases of Type 2 diabetes could be prevented or delayed by healthy eating, being more active, and losing weight if overweight.

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