Does a “fat gene” mean diabetes?

One of the world's leading researchers in the field of genetics and obesity and what that can mean for developing Type 2 diabetes will be giving the third annual Elsie Bertram Memorial Lecture in Norwich on 25th April 2006.

This year's lecture, titled “Obesity and diabetes – new genetic insights and how to choose the right parents” will be delivered by Professor Stephen O'Rahilly of the University of Cambridge.

Consultant diabetetologist Dr Mike Sampson said; “Professor O'Rahilly is internationally recognised for work on genetic links to obesity and type 2 diabetes. This is a vitally important health issue as the number of obese people continues to rise in the UK, with all the serious implications that means for conditions like Type 2 diabetes and the longer-term health of the nation.”

The annual Bertram lecture commemorates the very significant contribution that the late Elsie Bertram made to diabetes services in Norfolk. She had developed an active interest in diabetes as a result of her two sons developing the disorder. Mrs Bertram died in October 2003 at the age of 91.

Diabetes continues to be one of the fastest growing chronic diseases in Norfolk, with 1500 new diagnoses a year locally, and at least 17,000 people in Central Norfolk with the condition.

The third Elsie Bertram Memorial Lecture takes place on Tuesday April 25th, at 6pm in the lecture theatre at the John Innes Centre, Colney Lane. Entrance is free and does not require a ticket.


There are two forms of diabetes. Type 1 (“insulin dependent”) diabetes occurs in younger people when the pancreas stops producing insulin. Before the discovery of insulin in the 1920s Type 1 diabetes always proved fatal. Daily injections of insulin for life are required for well being and good diabetic control .

The number of Norfolk children being diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes has doubled over the past 15 years.

Type 2 (“non insulin dependent”) diabetes affects older people. The pancreas still produces insulin but in an unco-ordinated manner insufficient to control blood glucose levels.

There are about 17,000 people with diabetes in East Norfolk and a further 1,500 are diagnosed each year locally. It is thought that the onset of diabetes is caused by a mixture of genetic factors, obesity, poor diet or lack of exercise.

Diabetes explained

Diabetes can affect babies, children, young people and adults of all ages and is becoming more common. Diabetes can result in premature death, ill health and disability yet these complications can often be prevented or delayed by good diabetic control and high-quality care.

Diabetes is a group of disorders with many different causes all of which include raised blood glucose levels. This is the result of a lack of the hormone insulin and/or an inability to respond to insulin. Insulin in the blood, produced by the pancreas is the hormone which ensures that glucose (sugar) obtained from food can be used by the body.

Type I diabetes

About 20% of people with diabetes in England have Type 1 diabetes, the pancreas is no longer able to produce insulin because the insulin-producing cells (b-cells) have been destroyed by the body's immune system.

Type 1 diabetes develops most frequently in children, young people and young adults. Although it is less common than Type 2 diabetes it is more immediately evident and symptoms can develop very rapidly. These include increased thirst and urine production, weight loss despite increased appetite, tiredness and blurred vision. People with Type 1 diabetes need daily injections of insulin to survive.

Type 2 diabetes

About 80% of those with diabetes in England have Type 2 diabetes where the pancreas is not able to produce enough insulin for the body's needs. The majority of people with Type 2 diabetes also have some degree of insulin resistance, where the cells in the body are not able to respond to the insulin that is produced.

Type 2 diabetes is most commonly diagnosed in adults over the age of 40, although increasingly it is appearing in young people and young adults. Glucose builds up in the blood, as in people with Type 1 diabetes, but symptoms appear more gradually and the diabetes may not be diagnosed for some years.

People with Type 2 diabetes need to adjust their diet and their lifestyle. Many are overweight or obese and will be advised to lose weight. Some will also need to take tablets and/or insulin to achieve control of their blood glucose level.

Wednesday 12th of April 2006 01:00:06 PM