Prevent chronic conditions among minority ethnic groups, NICE urges local authorities

The latest set of briefings from the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) contains advice to help local authorities reduce the high levels of certain chronic conditions among people from minority ethnicities.

People from black, Asian and other minority ethnic groups are up to six times more likely to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes or stroke, and 50 per cent more likely to die from cardiovascular disease than those in the wider population.

To address this issue the briefing recommends lower body mass index (BMI) thresholds as a trigger for intervening to prevent ill health among adults from minority ethnicities.

These thresholds are 23 kg/m2 BMI or more as the threshold for increased risk of chronic conditions, and 27.5 kg/m2 BMI or more for high risk of chronic conditions, compared with the usual thresholds of 25 kg/m2 and 30 kg/m2 recommended for intervening with white European adults.

NICE also recommends developing an integrated regional and local plan, and promoting early intervention among black, Asian and other minority groups.

Professor Mike Kelly, Director of the Centre for Public Health at NICE, said: "Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke are potentially life-threatening conditions, which people of African, Caribbean and Asian descent and other minority ethnicities are significantly more likely to develop than the wider population. So it's vital that local authorities are supported in taking action to prevent these illnesses in people who have a high risk of developing them.

"As well as improving the health and wellbeing of individuals, taking effective action now also reduces future demand on health and social care services by enabling people to remain as independent as possible."

The NICE also encourages local authorities to ensure that health and social care services can meet the sometimes complex needs of local people in their area.

The way that health and social care services are structured and delivered, for example in terms of location and opening times, may be making them inaccessible to some people.

Population characteristics may also play a role, with those that are homeless, seeking asylum, or who speak English only as a second language more likely to have limited access to health and social care services.

Addressing health inequalities not only allows such people to access services they may need but are missing, but can also lead to cost savings. The cost of treating illness and disease arising from this is estimated at £5.5 billion per year in England, leading to productivity losses of between £31-33 billion per year.

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