A signposted route around Figges Marsh in Mitcham has been opened to encourage all residents, whatever their age or fitness levels, to walk, jog or run a mile every day. The #MertonMile, run by Merton Council, aims to motivate school children, their families and all residents of Merton to be more active.
The council and its partners on the Merton Health and Wellbeing Board are also officially launching their Sugar Smart campaign, which aims to reduce the amount of sugar that people eat and drink. Consuming a lot of sugar can increase the risk of developing diabetes.
Preventing diabetes is the focus of two reports being launched today to coincide with Diabetes Awareness Week. One is the Annual report of Merton Council’s Director of Public Health, Dr Dagmar Zeuner and the other is the Tackling Diabetes Action Plan 2019-2024 by the Merton Health and Wellbeing Board. The action plan was informed by lessons learned through the Diabetes Truth Programme, which involved each member of the board shadowing someone who is at risk of, living with or caring for someone with diabetes to gain an insight into what it is like to live with the condition.
Merton Council’s Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and Health, Councillor Tobin Byers, who also chairs the Merton Health and Wellbeing Board, said: “Small lifestyle changes, including walking, jogging or running a mile every day and swapping sugary foods for healthier alternatives, can make a huge difference to our physical health and mental wellbeing and reduce the risk of developing diabetes.”
In Merton, cases of diabetes are increasing with nearly 11,200 people over the age of 17 diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in 2017/18. If nothing changes, this is predicted to rise to nearly 18,400 people by 2035.
Being overweight or obese significantly increases the risk of developing diabetes. In Merton, one in every five children starting primary school is overweight or obese and this increases to one in three pupils leaving primary school.
The Merton Child Healthy Weight Action Plan 2019-2022, which was also launched today, advocates a family and healthy place based approach to increasing the number of children who are a healthy weight.
Merton Council’s Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, Councillor Kelly Braund, said: “Getting into healthy habits at a young age can help to reduce the risk of obesity and long term conditions including diabetes.
“Childhood obesity is a complex issue and there is no single solution, which is why we are working with families and the wider community to ensure Merton is a healthy place to grow up.”