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Diabetes rates in Swale, Thanet and Medway among the highest in south east England

Shocking figures have emerged showing four areas of Kent have the highest rates of diabetes in the south east.

Swale tops the table with 7.9% of the population being diagnosed with the disease, followed by Thanet (7.86%), Medway (7.74%) and the south Kent coast (7.67%) - well above the national average of 6.9 %.

It means the number of people with diabetes in Kent is now 104,904, up from 101,389 last year.

Officials say the figures are worrying because people with type 2 diabetes are 50% more likely to die prematurely.

Diabetes UK says there are also almost a million people across the UK living with the disease, who don't know they have it because they haven't been diagnosed yet.

Official figures show 3.9 million people are now living with diabetes, and 90% of those have type 2.

A common complication of diabetes that can lead to early death is heart disease.

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People with type 2 diabetes are up to two-and-a-half times more likely to experience this and twice more likely to have a heart attack.

While not every case of type 2 diabetes is associated with excessive weight, officials says it is the single greatest risk factor, responsible for 80 to 85% of someone's risk of developing the condition.

Age, family history, and ethnicity, can also contribute to someone's risk of catching the disease, with people of African-Caribbean, black African or south Asian descent up to four times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than white people.

Obesity in England has almost doubled in the last 20 years from 6.9 to 13 million.

Diabetes UK has called for the government to honour its manifesto commitment to tackle childhood obesity.

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Jill Steaton, regional head of the charity in the south east, said: "Type 2 diabetes is an urgent public health crisis, and solving it depends on decisive action that's led by government, supported by industry and delivered across our society.

"More than half of all cases of type 2 diabetes - and the accompanying risk of developing devastating complications - could be prevented or delayed by supporting people to make healthier choices.

"This includes mandating industry to make food and drinks healthier, and addressing the marketing and promotion of unhealthy foods.

"At the same time, we need to help people understand their personal risk of type 2 diabetes and find tailored clinical support to reduce it.

"The government promised to tackle obesity, and it's time for them deliver on this promise, and lead the way in affecting real change.

"Preventing type 2 diabetes, and the development of devastating complications for those living with the condition has to be a public health priority."

KentOnline earlier spoke to a woman who set up a company to train dogs to sense dangerous drops in blood sugar levels of people with diabetes.

Kent County Council supports national initiatives including Change4Life and One You and have information on healthy eating here.

  • To find out more about the risk factors for type 2 diabetes and what you can do to reduce them click here

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