Olympic legacy: Tackling the 'East London Diabetes Belt' is a major challenge

October 4, 2012

A study by Queen Mary, University of London researchers has shown the scale of the challenge facing those in charge of delivering the Olympic legacy. In three London boroughs they have found that, overall, as many as one in ten of the local population has a high risk of developing type 2 diabetes within the next ten years. In some areas close to the Stratford Olympic Park up to one in six adults are at high risk.

The study, published in the British Journal of General Practice, analysed half a million for all people without , aged between 25-79, and registered with a GP in the London boroughs of Tower Hamlets, Newham and City & Hackney.

Using a scoring system known as the QDScore, the researchers were able to predict the percentage of the population that were at (a 20% chance or more) of developing within the next ten years. They then applied this information to a map of the boroughs to produce a geospatial map that showed the level of risk in different areas, with 'hot spots' in areas of high risk.

"We found the risk of diabetes is very high, with about one in ten people being at high risk overall, and in some parts, such as the north-eastern corner of Newham, rising to around one in six," said Dr Dianna Smith who created the map and is a lecturer at the Centre for Primary Care and , Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry, part of Queen Mary, University of London (UK). "There is a geographical band of high risk across East London, which we've dubbed the 'East London Diabetes Belt' that runs near the Olympic Park and corresponds to some areas of deprivation and a high proportion of South Asian and Black ethnic groups."

The study found that approximately 50% of people with known cardiovascular disease or high blood pressure were at high risk. Other factors in the QDScore that increased the risk were: male gender, increasing age (20% of 40-79 year olds were at high risk), deprivation and obesity. Ethnicity affected risk, with more than twice as many people of South Asian ethnic origin at high risk (16.4%) compared to the White (7.5%).

"Diabetes and obesity (one of the main causes of diabetes) are a major source of ill health and hospital admissions. The cost to the health service in the future will be extensive if we don't help people to control their risk. This is a gold medal moment at the start of the Olympic legacy period to prioritise tackling chronic disease and capitalise on the enthusiasm for physical activity generated by the Olympics," said Dr Douglas Noble, a public health doctor at the Centre for Primary Care and Public Health, who led the overall research.

Professor Trisha Greenhalgh, who was also part of the research team, said: "As a former national athlete, I can see few things more important than the health and wellbeing of the next generation. We know we've got an extensive problem in East London with lack of physical activity and poor dietary habits, which contributes to obesity and diabetes. Once diabetes has been diagnosed, it's an uphill battle to get it under control. It's far better to prevent it in the first place. Highlighting the risk of diabetes gives people a chance to make important individual choices to reduce their risk. Increasing and eating more healthily, which leads to weight loss, reduces the risk of diabetes regardless of ethnicity or deprivation."

The researchers say the study could be used to help policy makers and planners design effective public health strategies that are targeted particularly at the groups most in need. "Mapping risk revealed the 'East London Diabetes Belt' and this could help to plan actions at local and national level to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, particularly in regard to the Olympic legacy," concluded Dr Noble.

Explore further: Modern health mapping shows how poverty and ill health persist over 100 years

More information: "Quantifying the risk of type 2 diabetes in East London using the QDScore", by Rohini Mathur, Douglas Noble, Dianna Smith, Trisha Greenhalgh, and John Robson. British Journal of General Practice.

Related Stories

Modern health mapping shows how poverty and ill health persist over 100 years

February 16, 2012
Researchers from Queen Mary, University of London are aiming to improve the health of Londoners by combining a century-old mapping technique with up-to-the-minute technology.

Tools for predicting diabetes exist but are not used, research shows

November 29, 2011
New research from Queen Mary, University of London suggests that many cases of diabetes could be prevented by making use of existing prediction tools.

Diabetes risk factors in young Sri Lankans much higher than previously thought

February 14, 2012
Scientists at King's College London and the National Diabetes Centre (Sri Lanka) have found evidence of a high number of risk factors for type 2 diabetes among the young urban population in Sri Lanka. The study is the first ...

Six new genetic variants linked to type 2 diabetes discovered in South Asians

August 28, 2011
An international team of researchers led by Imperial College London has identified six new genetic variants associated with type-2 diabetes in South Asians. The findings, published in Nature Genetics, give scientists new ...

Recommended for you

Two Group A Streptococcus genes linked to 'flesh-eating' bacterial infections

September 22, 2017
Group A Streptococcus bacteria cause a variety of illnesses that range from mild nuisances like strep throat to life-threatening conditions including pneumonia, toxic shock syndrome and the flesh-eating disease formally known ...

Ecosystem approach makes urinary tract infection more treatable

September 22, 2017
The biological term 'ecosystem' is not usually associated with urinary tract infections, but this should change according to Wageningen scientists.

Residents: Frontline defenders against antibiotic resistance?

September 22, 2017
Antibiotic resistance continues to grow around the world, with sometimes disastrous results. Some strains of bacteria no longer respond to any currently available antibiotic, making death by infections that were once easily ...

Superbug's spread to Vietnam threatens malaria control

September 21, 2017
A highly drug resistant malaria 'superbug' from western Cambodia is now present in southern Vietnam, leading to alarming failure rates for dihydroartemisinin (DHA)-piperaquine—Vietnam's national first-line malaria treatment, ...

Investigators may unlock mystery of how staph cells dodge the body's immune system

September 21, 2017
For years, medical investigators have tried and failed to develop vaccines for a type of staph bacteria associated with the deadly superbug MRSA. But a new study by Cedars-Sinai investigators shows how staph cells evade the ...

Individualized diets for irritable bowel syndrome better than placebo

September 21, 2017
Patients with irritable bowel syndrome who follow individualized diets based on food sensitivity testing experience fewer symptoms, say Yale researchers. Their study is among the first to provide scientific evidence for this ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.