NHS diabetes chief warns of danger of piling up life-changing lock books


The British have probably accumulated the pounds by being trapped inside, warned yesterday the best doctor of the country in obesity and diabetes.

Jonathan Valabhji said that adults burn fewer calories because they don’t go to work or do other daily activities.

He said the pandemic should, however, serve as a “life-changing” trigger for behavior change – especially since studies have indicated that coronavirus is more deadly for the obese.

Professor Valabhji’s research this week showed that patients with type 2 diabetes, which is linked to obesity, were twice as likely to die than otherwise healthy individuals. His study of 24,000 patients found that almost a third of those who died had diabetes and that morbid obesity further increased the risk of death.

Pictured: NHS diabetes chief Professor Jonathan Valabhji

Pictured: NHS diabetes chief Professor Jonathan Valabhji

Professor Valabhji, National Clinical Director for Diabetes and Obesity at NHS England and NHS Improvement, said: “Many people have spent a lot of time sitting inside and there is a risk that people will gain weight. .

“We will not know that [for certain] until we see people start to get out of social distancing and we start to scale people up.

“For someone like me, it’s a concern, it’s a concern for me.

“You can see the risk that people will gain weight while sitting at home limited in the exercise they can do, not go about their daily activities and go to work. Am I worried that people have gained weight during this time? Yes, it is not unreasonable to assume that if people are stuck inside, they may have gained weight. “

Professor Valabhji, a diabetes consultant at St Mary’s Hospital in central London, said the coronavirus was an opportunity to start a healthier life.

“One would hope that simple public health messages would land more and more strongly. If this is the perfect time to start a public health message – which I think it is – it would be to eat healthy, eat a little less if you are in the obese range and lose weight. Exercise is one of them, especially at a time when we are no longer limited to just one exercise per day. “

The professor said that although adults could not change the other main risk factors for coronavirus – age and ethnicity – they could influence obesity and type 2 diabetes.

“The important thing about losing weight is that it has to be sustainable – by incorporating habits that will last,” he added.

“It is important to slowly and gradually integrate habits that you can maintain. If people are obese, then eating a little less, eating a healthier diet and exercising a little more are intuitive ways to get going. “

Earlier this month, NHS figures showed that 26% of men and 29% of women are obese, which is defined as having a body mass index over 30. About 4.8 million Britons suffer from diabetes – the majority of type 2 – and rates have doubled in 20 years linked to an increase in obesity.

These levels are significantly higher than many other western countries, which suggests that they may partly explain why coronavirus death rates in the UK are the worst in Europe. Professor Valabhji said, “Diabetes is an independent risk factor for death with Covid … as it contributes to higher death rates in this country compared to others, I don’t think I can answer that and the same way with obesity. “

Other health experts are concerned that adults and children will snack more since the lockout and order more takeout. Caroline Cerny of the Obesity Health Alliance, a coalition of 44 medical schools, charities and campaign groups, said, “Several surveys have shown that we all nibble more during the lockdown and that it is likely that this will result in a catch weight.

“It is not helped by the food companies that continue to aggressively sell their unhealthy food to us to ensure that it remains at the center of our concerns while we are a captive audience. “

Earlier this month, Health Secretary Matt Hancock ordered health officials to scan the files of thousands of pandemic victims to determine if obesity, ethnicity and gender are increasing the risk. death from coronavirus.

The review was commissioned after researchers at the University of Liverpool warned that obesity increased the risk of dying from the virus by 37%.


Diabetes puts people at a higher risk of developing severe COVID-19 because it weakens the immune system, scientists say.

The disease, which affects more than four million people in the UK, is caused by abnormal blood sugar levels. For most people, this takes the form of type 2 diabetes, in which there is too much sugar in the blood.

According to the researchers, this thickens the blood and reduces its ability to transport substances quickly in the body.

General practitioner and diabetes specialist Dr. Hajira Dambha-Miller said that a patient’s blood becomes “like molasses” due to high sugar levels.

“Physically, it is more difficult for the immune system to contract the virus,” she said. “Viruses do a lot of damage before the immune system even realizes it.”

Therefore, when a person is infected with the coronavirus, their body may take longer to react and fight it, and the response may be less effective when it starts.

Their illness does not make a diabetic person more likely to get the virus themselves – that is, without discrimination – just less likely to be able to recover quickly.

Dr. Dambha-Miller added, “When the body goes off, it won’t work as it should. The immune cells are damaged because they have been saturated with sugar for years and do not work as they should.

The American Diabetes Association says it is not clear whether COVID-19 will pose a risk difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

But the risk of getting very sick with COVID-19 is likely to be lower if diabetes is managed well, whether it’s type 1 or type 2.

The Association explains that people with diabetes often have other health problems, such as obesity, heart disease or high blood pressure, which in turn contribute more to their risk of dying with COVID-19.

The ADA said, “Having heart disease or other complications in addition to diabetes could increase your chances of getting seriously ill from COVID-19, like other viral infections, because your body’s ability to fight an infection is compromised.

“Viral infections can also increase inflammation or internal swelling in people with diabetes. This is also caused by higher than target blood sugar levels, and both could contribute to more serious complications. “

People of black African, Caribbean or South Asian descent are more likely to develop diabetes and have also been shown to be more at risk of dying if they catch the coronavirus.


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