Belfast Telegraph

DUP MP Jim Shannon: My diabetes is down to stress and a fast food diet

By Richard Wheeler

A diet of Chinese food and two bottles of Coke five nights a week led to a Northern Ireland MP weighing almost 18 stone and developing diabetes, Parliament has heard.

Strangford MP Jim Shannon told that stress also played a part as he blamed his lifestyle choices for why he had type 2 diabetes, adding he had had to lose the weight "very, very quickly".

The DUP man made the remarks as he called on the Government to do more to increase education about the dangers of being overweight or obese, adding that NHS health checks for everyone aged between 40 and 74 had been "patchily" introduced.

After outlining that 80% of people with type 2 diabetes are overweight or obese, Mr Shannon told a Westminster Hall debate on diabetes: "What is so frustrating is that up to 80% of type 2 diabetics could be delayed or prevented.

"I'm not saying this in any judgmental way at all because many in this chamber will be aware that I'm a type 2 diabetic... I have to blame myself, on my lifestyle choices, for the onset of this disease.

"It was the Chinese carry-out five nights a week with two bottles of Coke – not a good diet for anybody. It's the reason why I was almost 18 stone and had to lose it very, very quickly.

"But aside of that, it was also a lifestyle with high levels of stress. Combine the two and diabetes knocks the door of nearly everybody, as most of us know.

"Many people can be diabetics even if they are not necessarily overweight – they can be through their lifestyle of stress as well.

"How many others living the same lifestyle are not aware of the damage they are doing to their bodies in the long- term and how can we do better at highlighting this?"

Mr Shannon previously told another Commons debate that sweet and sour pork was his Chinese food of choice.

Replying for the Government, Public Health Minister Jane Ellison said the global threat of diabetes could not be underestimated with numbers suggesting 600 million people – or one in 10 of the world's population – will have the disease by 2035.

Referring to Mr Shannon, she said: "I think you refer to it as a ticking time bomb but... for the most part, we don't have to accept the inevitability of that and there are things we can do. I think it is right we are beginning to talk about this as a global community and talk about it in global health terms."

Ms Ellison said diabetes was a priority for the Government, including setting objectives for the NHS and Public Health England to do more on preventing it.

Addressing obesity and lifestyles involving little exercise, Ms Ellison said: "We've a long way to go yet because for too long it was left in a silo marked 'health' and it's more important than that.

"We know all parts of local and national government need to address this issue of inactivity, which is one of the factors that can help in that prevention with diabetes."

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