18 September 2011
Last updated at 04:36 ET
Nearly a third of people measured in Cornwall had a BMI of more than 30
The cost of treating people with diabetes in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly has risen by about 25% in the past four years to more than £7m.
Nearly 25,000 people in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly have the disease and the cost of treating it is nearly 8.4% of the drugs’ budget.
Cornwall and Isles of Scilly NHS said about 85% of sufferers have the weight-related Type 2 diabetes.
Type 2, which can usually be prevented, is increasing “year-on-year”, it said.
Type 1 diabetes is cause by an autoimmune disorder, while Type 2 is linked to an unhealthy weight, which is often combined with inactivity and a poor diet.
According to data produced by the Public Health Observatories of England, the number of people diagnosed with diabetes in Cornwall alone rose from 21,715 to 23,841 – an increase of more than 2,000 in a year.
Health experts are particularly concerned about future risks to the growing number of children who are obese.
Caroline Dunstan, lead diabetes specialist for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly NHS, said people had to understand that a healthy diet and lifestyle was not a “chore”.
“We are as a nation becoming increasingly obese,” she said.
“Prioritising a good diet and regular physical activity is a lifestyle change that we need to embrace rather than see as a chore.”
The best outcome was to prevent people becoming ill in the first place, she said.
“Western society’s penchant for fat and sugar-rich foods is driving the rise in obesity and consequently Type 2 diabetes.
“We need to consciously review what we eat and prevent even more people from unnecessarily developing this life-changing disease.”
About 31% of local adult patients measured during the past year had a body mass index (BMI) or more than 30, Ms Dunstan said.
A BMI between 20 and 25 is generally considered healthy. A BMI of 30 suggests a person is obese, while 40 or higher would indicate someone who was morbidly obese.