The European Commission will plunge €11.7 million into a five-year project to investigate the treatment of obesity, one of the main causes of diabetes. The project will help identify brain mechanisms affecting obesity.
The announcement coincides with World Diabetes Day today, which aims to raise public awareness of the causes, symptoms, treatment and complications associated with the disease.
The Integrated project on obesity and diabetes includes 24 partners from ten European countries and is set to start in early 2004.
"Obesity ranks high among the causes of diabetes. It is a major risk factor and the reduction of weight often improves blood sugar control, thereby helping in the treatment of diabetes. This new research project is a first example of the European Research Area in action in the field of diabetes," said European Research commissioner Philippe Busquin.
"It is time for governments and the public to understand the seriousness of the situation and to take appropriate national and local action to prevent diabetes and the complications arising from it," added Professor Pierre Lefèbvre, president of the International Diabetes Federation. "Individuals must also take responsibility to change unhealthy dietary habits and lifestyles."
Currently, 5-10 per cent of the world's healthcare budget is spent on diabetes, and by 2025 this figure could reach 40 per cent in some countries if predictions of diabetes prevalence are fulfilled. Most of the economic costs of diabetes are attributable to the various complications linked to it, with up to two-thirds of people with diabetes in certain countries developing serious chronic complications.
The IDF and WHO are aiming to emphasise the benefits of a healthy lifestyle (eating a well-balanced diet, stopping smoking, and exercising regularly) in the prevention of diabetes.