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Tuesday 22 October 2019

'Our 10-year-olds now have type 2 diabetes' - health expert warns

Professor Niall Moyna
Professor Niall Moyna

Children as young as 10 years old are presenting with type 2 diabetes as Ireland's obesity levels continue to climb upwards, a leading expert has said.

But according to Professor Niall Moyna, from the Centre for Preventive Medicine at DCU, this kind of diabetes is wholly avoidable as the disease is intrinsically linked with poor life-style choices and is becoming increasingly common among Irish pre-teens.

"Type 2 diabetes is 95pc lifestyle. It used to be called adult onset diabetes because you didn't get it until your 40s and 50s.

"But we now have pre-pubescent children in this country diagnosed with diabetes, so you can imagine what their journey is going to be.

"If you're a pre-pubescent diagnosed today, the likelihood is those individuals will lose a limb in their 20s, half of them will go blind in their 30s and spend the last few years of life in their 40s going to dialysis three days a week, and it's all preventative," he said.

Prof Moyna said, given that people are now typically living longer and beyond the age of 80, individuals have to make informed choices about their exercise levels and make smart diet choices to avoid decades of poor quality of life.

According to a study in The Lancet, Ireland is now on course to become the most obese country in Europe by 2025, along with the UK, as we face into a looming healthcare crisis.

He said that people need to be more proactive when it comes to their lifestyle choices and start tracking their exercise and diet.

"The bottom line in all of this is we're all going to live till beyond 80 years of age and we have to decide how much of that life span is going to be health span," he said.

Ailments

"At the moment in Ireland, people are on multiple medications in their 50s and 60s, so they're living the last 30 years of their life in a state of ill health and on multiple medications with multiple ailments."

He was speaking at yesterday's launch of the MyLife app at the Marker Hotel.

The app has been described as the first of its kind that lets users monitor and improve their own health score.

Devised by Irish Life, it encourages users to select and set a fitness, nutrition and lifestyle goal each month, allowing people to earn points and rewards when they reach their targets.

Using data compiled from your BMI to your lifestyle and mental health, it's being hailed as a game-changer in the personal fitness industry.

"You're going to get an overall view of you, who you are, and the doctor is going to be able to give you lifestyle or surgical intervention, based on your unique profile. This app is the start of this revolution," Prof Moyna said.

"We will be able to individually prescribe treatments; we can be pre-emptive as well in predicting disease and that is hugely transformative."

The event was hosted by RTE presenter Kathryn Thomas who said the app "rewards people for living healthily and we all need an incentive".

"It makes you think about your health differently," she said. "It doesn't just do your steps, it tracks lifestyle, your emotions, your stress level, your sleep, so you can key in areas you need help with."

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