Healthy New Towns Takes Novel Approach to Health Corrosive Urban Areas

That British Medical Association has supported a new NHS programme intended at improving nutrition across the nation.

The so-called Healthy New Towns programme aims to put health at the heart of new neighbourhoods and towns across the country.

According to research, the UK loses 140 million working days due to ill-health every single year, and a significant proportion of this can be attempted to poor diet and other preventable causes.

Symptomatic of the decline in general health is the diabetes epidemic in the UK. The cost of this condition to the NHS is already £10 billion annually, and projections suggest that this will significantly increase in the coming years.

With this in mind, Healthy New Towns is intended to deliver a real health and financial impact, while delivering on key aims set out in the Five Year Forward View.

As part of the programme, five long-term partnerships will initially be selected from across the country, covering housing developments of different sizes, from smaller projects up to those over 10,000 units.

Each of these selected sites will then benefit from a programme of support, which will focus on global expertise in spatial and urban design, national sponsorship and increased local flexibility.

Their intention is to build new and cohesive communities that support physical and mental well-being.

The nature of the existing urban landscape is such that obesity, diabetes and other forms of intrinsic ill-health almost inherently flourish.

Some sources have described these heavily built up environment as obesogenic.

It is hoped that the Healthy New Towns programming can help create a healthier urban culture in which exercise is part of the everyday experience in particular.

Additionally, the technological revolution means that it is increasingly possible for people to access sophisticated medical information, and even treatment, within their own homes.

So a central pillar of the Healthy New Towns program is to help provide community health and social care services by designing and investing in the use of new digital technologies.

Independence within and outside of the home is considered to be an important principle of this initiative.

The British Medical Association has already indicated its support for, and enthusiasm about, this new programme.

Professor Sir Al Aynsley-Green, the former Children’s Commissioner, Office offered backing for the scheme at the Care Innovation Expo in Manchester.

Aynlsey-Green particularly emphasised the potential of the scheme to make a positive difference in young people’s lives.

“This is a fantastic initiative. I have been to some dismal modern estates with nothing for young people to do and I would urge that we build developments with children’s health at their hearts,” Aynlsey-Green stated.

NHS England, with support from Public Health England, has invited leading local authorities, housing associations and the construction sector to identify development projects where they would like NHS support in creating health-promoting new towns and neighbourhoods in England.

 
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Study Finds Link Between Marijuana and Prediabetes

New research suggests that people who use marijuana may be more likely to develop prediabetes than those who have never smoked the substance.

A paper published in Diabetologia (the journal of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes) assesses a sample of 3,000 people across the United States.

And the findings of the study were that adults currently using marijuana work 65 per cent more likely to suffer from the form of poor sugar control that can lead to Type II diabetes.

Those involved in the study who no longer smoked cannabis, but had used it 100 times or more in their lifetime, also have a significantly higher chance of developing their condition.

This was found to be around 50 per cent greater than those who have never consumed marijuana in any form.

The study ultimately found that “marijuana use was associated with the development and prevalence of prediabetes after adjustment. Specifically, occurrence of prediabetes in middle adulthood was significantly elevated for individuals who reported using marijuana in excess of 100 times by young adulthood.”

However, although there was a high incidence of prediabetes indicated by the study, the research failed to establish a direct link between Type 2 diabetes and marijuana usage.

The authors, led by the University of Minnesota School of Public Health’s Mike Bancks, said: “It is unclear how marijuana use could place an individual at increased risk for prediabetes yet not diabetes.”

Thus, some confusion still reigns over the result of the study.

Data was gleaned from a group of more than 3,000 US citizens, all of whom are collectively participating in a study called the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults.

Each of these individuals were aged between 18 and 30 when they were recruited in 1985-86, and have now been participating for 30 years straight.

The percentage of those reporting use of marijuana among the group has declined significantly over the decades in which they have been involved in this huge piece of research.

Although there seems to be little understanding regarding how marijuana could be linked with prediabetes and not tied to diabetes, authors of the paper did at least suggest some possible reasons for this.

The paper proposes that the lack of a link to type 2 diabetes could be because individuals excluded from the study had higher levels of marijuana use and greater potential for development of diabetes.

Additionally, it is possible that marijuana usage may have a larger affect on blood-sugar control in the prediabetic range than for full, type 2 diabetes.

3.2 million UK adults have been diagnosed as being diabetic, with this figure expected to increase to 5 million by 2025.

But Europe’s EMCDDA drug agency suggested in its annual report on drug use in the continent, published in June 2015, that cannabis use among 15 to 34 year olds has halved in the UK over the last 15 years.

It is thought that this could be due to smoking-related legislation.

 
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Researchers Attempting to Develop Double-Whammy Alzheimer’s Drug

A team of researchers in Ohio is currently attempting to develop a so-called wonder drug that tackles both Alzheimer’s and Type 2 diabetes.

These conditions are known for sharing two destructive proteins that play a key role in the conditions and their development.

Clinical research being carried out at the University of Akron has raised expectation that a cure for the conditions could kill both birds with one stone in the foreseeable future.

With federal funding to the order of £200,000, this critical study could have global implications.

The US National Science Foundation has backed the researchers to produce an antidote to these two conditions, and the potential of a cure is certainly an exciting prospect for medicine and public health across the planet.

Recent years have seen a diabetes epidemic across the Western world in particular, with excessive added sugar in process food considered a major factor in this worrying trend.

The Daily Health Bulletin reported in March, 2011 that 280 million people worldwide (approximately 6.5 per cent of the world’s population) is diabetic.

Just months later, a study in The Lancet demonstrated that the number of adults with Type 2 diabetes has more than doubled in the last thirty years, soaring to almost 10 per cent of the world population.

And the burden on the National Health Service is also extremely well documented.

Official figures indicate that diabetes costs the NHS £1 million every hour. This amounts to a figure of over £8 billion per annum.

However, scientists working on the drug have noted that the majority of Alzheimer’s patients possess either Type II diabetes, or else are glucose intolerant.

Studies have indicated that diabetes sufferers aged 60 and over are twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s as normally adjusted individuals.

And it is believed that a chemical interaction between two destructive proteins present in both conditions plays a key role in their development, leading researchers to assert that treating them simultaneously should be feasible.

The search for one of medicine’s most valuable secrets is being led by American scientist Dr Jie Zheng.

The experienced expert in chemical and biochemical engineering believes that it will indeed  be possible to treat both conditions with a solitary tablet, and that this drug could emerge by 2025.

Both Alzheimer’s and Type 2 diabetes are caused by peptide aggregates, and feature extremely similar biological and structural functions.

An abnormal accumulation of Abeta peptides is linked to Alzheimer’s, while an abnormal accumulation of human islet amyloid polypeptide or hIAPP is linked to Type 2 diabetes.

The research is particularly building on previous studies that have suggested that animals fed a diet which would leave them vulnerable to diabetes can result in their brains being crippled with insoluble protein plaques; one of the features of Alzheimer’s.

 
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Charity Issues New Diabetes Guidance And Glucose Targets

New diabetes guidance issued by the charity NICE has been welcomed by Diabetes UK.

The advice is aimed at children and young people with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, and emerges over a decades after the last set of specific guidelines were published by the charity.

NICE has placed particular emphasis on tighter blood glucose targets, and these can only be achieved with appropriate support being put in place, at least in the opinion of the charity.

The long-term target for blood glucose levels has traditionally been set at 58mmols/mol (7.5 per cent), but NICE has now reduced this advisable level significantly.

New guidance published by the charity suggests that in order to avoid long-term risk of developing diabetes, young people should maintain a blood glucose level beneath 48 mmols/mol (6.5 per cent).

Research indicates that tighter control over blood glucose will reduce the risk of developing serious diabetes-related complications such as blindness, amputation and strokes. And the new glucose guidelines will be of significant value in ensuring young people avoid these debilitating conditions in later life.

But the charity has warned that the conduct of the government over the next few years will be vital to implementing its strategy effectively.

NICR has particularly underlined the need for clinics to be armed with satisfactory tools to provide support to young patients and their families.

Speaking on the new guidelines, Barbara Young, Chief Executive of Diabetes UK, was keen to emphasise that support was key to adhering to the vision of the charity: “Meeting the new blood glucose targets can bring about inherent health benefits. However, the government needs to ensure that appropriate support is available to help children and their families to achieve this.

“While the technology, such as pumps and increased access to continuous blood glucose monitors, is available to support children with Type 1 diabetes reach blood glucose targets, it is critical that they receive the emotional support, such as improved access to specialist psychological care, they and their families need to feel empowered to achieve these new targets.

Young also pointed out the current failures of diabetes-related policy: “We know that the majority of children with Type 1 diabetes already struggle to achieve current blood glucose targets with the most recent figures revealing that less than one in five manage this.”

 The Western world has experienced something of a diabetes epidemic in recent years, with increased sugar consumption and sedentary lifestyles considered to be two key factors in the phenomenon.

Just weeks ago, an NHS report indicates that a lack of physical activity is leading to a new “sofa generation” at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.

It is already estimated that based on current trends, 5 million Britons will have Type 2 diabetes alone by 2025.

 
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Diabetes Report Paints Sobering UK Picture

Newly published analysis produced by Diabetes UK gives insight into the impact of diabetes on the nation.

According to the leading UK charity, people with diabetes suffer 200,000 devastating complications every year. These include amputations, heart attacks and strokes.

The report has been based on data that forms part of the National Diabetes Audit. Yet despite the sobering nature of the figures involved, the nadir of this phenomenon has yet to be reached, at least based on current projections.

By 2025, it is predicted that the number of people living with diabetes in Britain will soar to 5 million.

These figures illustrate the importance of addressing the disease within the NHS in terms of providing adequate care.

Diabetes is naturally a debilitating condition for sufferers, but it is also one of the largest economic burdens on the NHS. Staggeringly, diabetes alone accounts for 10 per cent of the entire NHS budget, with the health service spending £8 billion annually on tackling the condition.

Much of this expenditure could be prevented, according to Diabetes UK, if appropriate care is provided.

Speaking on these worrying figures, Barbara Young, Diabetes UK Chief Executive, had the following to say: “It is an absolute tragedy that there are almost 200,000 cases a year of debilitating and life threatening diabetes complications such as heart attacks, amputations, and stroke that could be prevented with better care and support.”

Young also made reference to the disparity in care offered to diabetes sufferers depending on the region of the country in which they reside. Research indicates that there can be a gulf of nearly 40 per cent between the areas of the UK with the best and worst treatment of the condition.

“With the numbers of people with diabetes rising at an alarming rate, it is vital that the Government and the NHS act urgently to end the postcode lottery of diabetes care and ensure that all people living with diabetes get the support and care they need to live long healthy lives,” Young opined.

Young also made clear that it was important to communicate to the general public the value of adopting preventative lifestyle-based measures. “The NHS must get better at giving people with diabetes the education they need to take control of their condition,” she asserted.

A study by the World Health Organisation has previously suggested that diabetes in Britain could rise by 25% by the end of the decade, while the National Heart Forum claims that type 2 diabetes could increase in the UK by as much as 98% in the same timeframe.

 
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Innovative diabetes project wins top award

An innovative project – entitled ‘My Diabetes My Way’ – which allows people with diabetes electronic access to their medical records has been recognised with a top UK award.

Led by the University of Dundee in partnership with NHS Scotland, the project has been named winner of the Education and Self-Management Award at the 2015 Diabetes UK Annual Professional Conference.

The project offers people with diabetes anywhere in Scotland online access to their medical records, explaining the clinical measurements that are presented; the personalised and tailored information also helps people understand and take control of their condition.

The project fought off fierce competition from five other shortlisted candidates from across the UK to win the award.

“This is fantastic recognition for the work of the ‘My Diabetes My Way’ team over the last few years”, said Dr Scott Cunningham, the project’s technical lead based at the University of Dundee. “We hope this leads to greater awareness of the service to ensure that anyone with an interest in accessing their records online hears about it and signs up. The project is a strong example of the ways in which we can engage with patients and help transform the care and the quality of information they receive.”

 
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