Type 2 di­a­betes? It’s walk­ing de­fi­ciency syn­drome - top doc­tor

This isn’t a real ill­ness, just lack of ex­er­cise, he warns

Scottish Daily Mail - - News - By Tammy Hughes

THE 3.5mil­lion Bri­tons with Type 2 di­a­betes do not have a ‘real dis­ease’ – they have ‘walk­ing de­fi­ciency syn­drome’, a lead­ing doc­tor claimed yes­ter­day.

Sir Muir Gray said the con­di­tion was largely self-in­flicted as a re­sult of an unhealthy life­style, in­clud­ing too lit­tle ex­er­cise and a poor diet.

He be­lieves the ill­ness, which is largely pre­ventable but costs the NHS bil­lions of pounds a year to treat, should be re­named be­cause it is caused by the ‘mod­ern en­vi­ron­ment’ and a seden­tary life­style.

Sir Muir, who pi­o­neered breast and cer­vi­cal screen­ing and was knighted for his work in the devel­op­ment of foetal, ma­ter­nal and child screen­ing pro­grammes, has cham­pi­oned ex­er­cise, ac­tiv­ity and so­cial reme­dies to com­bat a range of dis­eases.

He has done ex­ten­sive re­search on how mod­ern life­styles in­volv­ing spend­ing hours sit­ting in front of a TV or com­puter screen con­trib­ute to the risk of dis­ease.

Speak­ing at the Ox­ford Lit­er­ary Fes­ti­val, Sir Muir said: ‘Type two di­a­betes or walk­ing de­fi­ciency syn­drome? I’m try­ing to get the name changed. The prob­lem with call­ing it type 2 di­a­betes makes you think it’s like rheuma­toid arthri­tis or a real dis­ease.’

But Tam Fry, of the Na­tional Obe­sity Fo­rum and Ac­tion On Su­gar, said: ‘Muir Gray is go­ing too far. Di­a­betes is a dis­ease. The real prob­lem with chang­ing its name is mixed mes­sages. We are tuned to di­a­betes 1 and di­a­betes 2 – not sleepy-walky syn­drome, or what­ever it is he wants to call it.’

The NHS now spends more on med­i­ca­tion for di­a­betes than any other con­di­tion. It is thought to cost £10bil­lion a year.

Nearly four mil­lion Bri­tons have di­a­betes, of which 90 per cent are Type 2 suf­fer­ers. By con­trast, Type 1 di­a­betes – whose suf­fer­ers in­clude Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May – is an au­toim­mune con­di­tion that of­ten emerges in child­hood.

The like­li­hood of de­vel­op­ing Type 2 di­a­betes is greatly ex­ac­er­bated by be­ing over­weight, and many pa­tients are able to re­verse the con­di­tion by di­et­ing.

Sir Muir, an hon­orary pro­fes­sor at Ox­ford Univer­sity and au­thor of Midlife: Look Younger, Live Longer And Look Bet­ter, said peo­ple could do sim­ple things to help them live a longer, health­ier life.

In ad­di­tion to a seden­tary work life, the av­er­age man and woman spends three hours watch­ing TV when they get home. Sir Muir said: ‘Al­ways keep the re­mote con­trol far away from you. Al­ways stand dur­ing ad­ver­tise­ments on one leg. Never sit down for the weather.’

Re­search by Cam­bridge Univer­sity claims in­ac­tiv­ity takes as many lives as smok­ing and is dead­lier than obe­sity. Sci­en­tists said in­ac­tiv­ity was the main cause of pre­ventable death from ill­nesses such as cancer, Type 2 di­a­betes and de­men­tia.

Dr Stephen Lawrence, clin­i­cal lead for di­a­betes at the Royal Col­lege of GPs, said: ‘Type 2 di­a­betes is pri­mar­ily caused by life­style fac­tors, but it is as­so­ci­ated with other de­mo­graphic and ge­netic fac­tors as well. To say it isn’t a real dis­ease is un­help­ful, and will only serve to stig­ma­tise pa­tients.

‘Type 2 di­a­betes is a very se­ri­ous and de­bil­i­tat­ing health con­di­tion for pa­tients, and can lead to other se­ri­ous con­di­tions, such as car­dio­vas­cu­lar, eye and kid­ney dis­ease.

‘Sim­ple life­style changes, in­clud­ing be­ing more ac­tive and tak­ing steps to lose weight, can have real ben­e­fits, but we need to en­cour­age pa­tients to do this, not blame them for hav­ing the con­di­tion.’

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