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GPs fall short in fight to avert diabetes timebomb

One of the UK's most eminent doctors has told GPs they are still not doing enough to prevent diabetes in high-risk patients.

The alert from Professor Sir George Alberti was prompted by new figures on the soaring burden of impaired glucose tolerance in Britain.

Sir George, president of the International Diabetes Federation and former president of the Royal College of Physicians, said GPs were 'not yet' doing all they could to prevent diabetes. Figures released last week by the federation reveal there are now 2.1 million people with impaired glucose tolerance in Britain.

Sir George, also the Government's emergency care tsar, said rates of diabetes were set to rise by 50 per cent in the next 10 years. Almost half of south Asians had impaired glucose tolerance or diabetes, and the rate in Caucasians was now at least 8-9 per cent.

'I have enormous sympathy with GPs because they have so much to deal with,' said Sir George.

But he urged them: 'Look at anybody at risk from impaired glucose tolerance and diabetes and push hard to give them strong lifestyle advice. The simple message is eat less, walk more.'

Dr Simon Griffin, a member of the Department of Health's diabetes screening task group, said most people with impaired glucose tolerance would not develop diabetes within 10 years.

Dr Griffin, lecturer in general practice at the University of Cambridge, said at-risk

patients could be picked up using routine practice data without resorting to 'time- consuming' glucose tolerance testing. 'There's very little evidence testing people and labelling them does any good.' I'd rather not try to make 20 per cent of my practice list impaired glucose tolerant.'

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