Type 2 diabetes? It’s walking deficiency syndrome - top doctor
This isn’t a real illness, just lack of exercise, he warns
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.’