Gone are the days where Irish people could crack jokes and dish out derogatory comments about the weight of our American friends across the pond. We have fully embraced the “super-size me” culture in Ireland and we are rapidly paying for it.
Fat and getting fatter
According to the World Health Organisation Ireland has the highest cases of obesity and excess weight in the entire European continent. In terms of obesity alone, the estimates for 2030 show a big jump for women in the Irish Republic, rising from 23 per cent to 57 per cent. The number of obese Irish men is expected to increase from 26 per cent to 48 per cent, while the figure for those either overweight or obese rises from 74 per cent to 89 per cent.
Overweight and happy. But are you healthy?
The risk of developing health problems such as heart disease, stroke, and kidney problems increases if you are obese along with risks such as high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol and high blood glucose (sugar), a sign of type 2 diabetes.
In a country where our health system is already crippled with bed shortages, staff shortages and lack of resources, an Ireland with an ageing population of obese individuals is a scary prospect. Ireland already has a large number of type 2 Diabetics. In fact, the CODEIRE study carried out in 1999 suggested 10% of the national health budget was being consumed treating the condition (49% on hospitalization for complications and wages; 42% on drug costs; 8-9% on ambulatory care and attending non-diabetes specialists for diabetes related complications).
Type 2 Diabetes epidemic
Type 2 diabetes is a serious condition. Secondary complications include heart disease, nerve damage, kidney damage and damage to eye-sight to name a few.
Type 2 diabetes occurs when your body is no longer able to handle sugar in the proper manner. With healthy individuals the glucose is taken out of the blood by insulin which is produced pancreatic cells. In this type of diabetes excess weight and inactivity contributes to insulin resistance. At first, your pancreas makes extra insulin to make up for it. But, over time it isn’t able to keep up and can’t make enough insulin to keep your blood glucose at normal levels.
According to a study carried out by the Institute of Public Health in Ireland by 2020, the rate of clinically-diagnosed diabetes for over 18’s is expected to rise to 3.8%, or 136,000 people. This represents a 28% increase in diagnosed diabetes in 10 years.
By 2020, the number of over 45’s with diabetes, both undiagnosed and diagnosed, will rise to more than 175,000, according to the IPH. This represents a 30% increase in 10 years.
What’s the prognosis?
Studies have shown that Type 2 diabetes is entirely reversible in the first 10 years of development with major weight loss. An important point is that individuals have different levels of tolerance of fat within liver and pancreas. When a person has more fat than they can cope with type 2 diabetes tends to develop. Everybody has their personal fat threshold. It makes sense therefore if you successfully lose weight, insulin secretion returns to normal.
Diabetes Screening at Pharmacy First Plus
At Pharmacy First Plus for a small fee of €15.00 we can carry out an HbA1c test. This test measures how much glucose is bound to certain blood cells over a three month period. It can be used to diagnose diabetes and pre-diabetes and also to check how in control your diabetes is.
If you are worried about your weight and diabetes risk call into any of our pharmacies and schedule an appointment today.