AN alarming number of people in Ireland are at risk of developing diabetes, a study reveals.
Two out of thee people tested were found to be at risk of type 2 diabetes – a lifestyle disease that can be reversed if action is taken early enough.
Two in every three people were also found to be either overweight or obese and more than eight in 10 had raised cholesterol levels.
VHI Healthcare, who launched the major pilot screening study at the start of the year, described the interim results as alarming.
VHI’s medical director, Dr Bernadette Carr, said they also found that 68% of men and 64% of women had waist circumferences larger than would be considered healthy.
Waist circumference is a big predictor for thedevelopment of diabetes.
Dr Carr said the screening initiative allowed the insurer to intervene at an early stage and help members realise that they needed to reduce their risk through diet and exercise management.
“Identifying people with pre-diabetes is really important because the condition carries a higher risk for future diabetes as well as heart disease,” said Dr Carr.
It has been estimated that around 80% of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes could be avoided if risk factors are eliminated.
Dr Carr said the news from the study was not all bad, with around 40% of men and 28% of women declaring that they had stopped smoking. And while 17% of men were drinking more than the recommended maximum 21 units of alcohol per week, just 5% of women admitted to exceeding their limit of 14 units.
To date, over 2,000 people, who are VHI customers, have been screened for type 2 diabetes.
Up to 4,000 members are expected to be screened by the year end and 30,000 members will be invited to be tested next year.
VHI customers in Dublin aged between 45 and 75 years and living within a five kilometre radius of either St James’s Hospital or the Mater Hospital were invited to participate in a series of tests that were free of charge.
The VHI hopes to have an additional screening centre in Cork and at a location in north county Dublin next year.
Screening will also take place at VHI Corporate Solutions offices in Dublin.
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