01926 436303 gp@tfjprivategp.co.uk

Dr Nick Tait has argued that action on tackling diabetes in the UK is being harmed by so-called ‘anxiety fatigue’, the notion that people tire of being told about things to worry about.
Dr Tait said people eventually switch off from messages highlighting the possible harm different lifestyle choices can cause, meaning they are also resistant to taking action on issues which directly affect them.
He said the key to treating diabetes effectively was getting patients to make small lifestyle changes and stick to them, rather than changing everything at once. He also emphasised the importance of diet and exercise in controlling the condition, rather than focusing on medication.
Dr Tait, who splits his working week between his NHS responsibilities and private doctors group TFJ Private GP Services, was speaking in the wake of World Diabetes Day on November 14.
“GPs often talk about the fact that to achieve change you need interest, opportunity and information. You have to be motivated,” said Dr Tait.
“Managing diabetes starts off with the basics of exercise and diet, as it is amazing how little people often know about their diets. But there is the danger of what we call anxiety fatigue – where you are told about so many things which can frighten you that you eventually stop worrying and forget the building blocks of change.
“The media is full of stories about studies which highlight how different types, or quantities, of food and drink can be harmful and eventually we reach saturation point. People won’t stay frightened forever.
“With diabetes, you need to do the basics well, get the building blocks in place and establish the underlying cause for the problem. I find it can often take around two years for people to make real changes to their lifestyle.”
He said that unlike some medical conditions, the initial focus for diabetics should be on improving the condition without medication.
“It is so important to realise that diet and exercise are as important as taking tablets. It is about getting people to make a small change and stick to it, as you are often talking to someone who feels well and has no discernible sign of illness,” he said.