Tom Watson: Diabetes diagnosis was the spark for radical change

By Peter Madeley | Sandwell | Politics | Published:

Tom Watson has today revealed that his radical weight loss programme was sparked after he was diagnosed with diabetes.

Tom Watson lost more than six stone after being diagnosed with diabetes

The deputy Labour has leader lost more than six stone over the past year after he embarked on a new diet and exercise regime.

Now in the best shape of his life, the 51-year-old has revealed that he was driven to drastically change his life style last year after doctors told him he had Type 2 diabetes – an illness characterised by high blood sugar levels that can cause blindness and lead to strokes, amputations and heart attacks.

He says he wants his own journey to be a lesson to others, destroying the myth that diabetes is an irreversible condition.

“We are facing a public health crisis as the catastrophic levels of obesity and Type 2 diabetes in the UK are too dangerous to ignore," the West Bromwich East MP and Shadow Culture and Sport Secretary said.

“They are costing the NHS 10 per cent of its budget and costing thousands of lives.

“My own journey has taught me what changing your diet and getting active can do."

Mr Watson, who incredibly no longer requires medication for diabetes, wants to see the Labour party lead the battle against the condition, showing how it can be both prevented and reversed.

He said: “I want the Labour party to spearhead the fight against Type 2 diabetes. The Government have failed time and again to have the ambition we need to crack the problem.


"If we don’t find the answers quickly, the NHS will not cope with the projected increase in sugar related life threatening diseases.”

Mr Watson lost six stone two pounds (38kg) after starting a weight loss programme that saw him cut out refined sugar and step up his exercise regime.

His diet includes starting the day with 'bulletproof coffee' – butter from grass-fed cows blended with fresh coffee – which gets saturated fats into your body so that you’re not as hungry during the day.

He also lifts weights, circuit trains and cycles.


“I basically stopped taking sugar, refined sugar, and then I started walking 10,000 steps a day and walking up staircases and when a bit more weight came off I started to jog and cycle," he said.

“I kept reading about Labour politicians that died early in their 50s and 60s and I want to get healthy, and actually for me the journey’s been very interesting because what I realise is there’s a lot more we can do in public health to deal with the obesity crisis."

Mr Watson was due to speak at the UK Active conference in London today, where he was set to announce the formation of a cross departmental team including Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth, to look at the issue of obesity and diabetes.

He was expected to point the finger of responsibility at food companies, who he accuses of putting hidden sugar in their products which contribute to the obesity crisis.

Mr Watson will also work alongside a new independent commission of experts tasked with finding ways to halt the rise of diabetes within five years. He says a Labour government would be committed to stop the rise of the condition within one parliamentary term.

The commission will look at what policies government will need to adopt to get the public more active, and will also examine a range of issues linked to public health, including whether stricter regulation is required over the amount of sugar that goes into food.

NHS figures show that the West Midlands is the second worst region in the country for obesity, with seven out of 10 people overweight.

In 2015 a total of 433,000 people (9.4 per cent) in the region had diabetes, way above the national average of 6.6 per cent.

The rise of Type 2 diabetes in the UK has been described as a public health crisis. In 1998 just three per cent of adults in England were diagnosed with diabetes, but by 2016 that figure had rocketed to seven per cent.

According to Public Health England, the number of foot and toe amputations related to diabetes has shot up by 26 per cent in recent years, costing the NHS around £44m a year.

Mr Watson added: "The high prevalence of diabetes in West Bromwich and other parts of the West Midlands is a real problem.

"The disease has terrible effects like blindness and it can lead to strokes, heart attacks and even dementia.

"The millions of people suffering from and at risk of Type 2 diabetes need to know that it is a preventable and reversible disease."

Peter Madeley

By Peter Madeley

Political Editor for the Express & Star. Responsible for local and national political stories, opinion, comment and analysis.


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