A STARK warning has been issued over a ticking diabetes time bomb in the Borders.

Poor diet and a lack of exercise is being blamed for two-thirds of all Borderers now being overweight, with around one-in-three classed as obese.

And the frightening scales statistics have led to a surge in cases of diabetes over the past decade or so.

Between 2005 and 2015 the number of Borderers diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes increased from around 3,700 to almost 6,000.

In his annual report, the director of public health in the Borders Dr Tim Patterson has highlighted concerns surrounding the surge in diabetes and other weight-affected illnesses.

He states: "We are living in an obesogenic environment which makes it difficult to maintain a healthy weight.

"Opportunities for people in the Scottish Borders to be physically active must be explored and healthy dietary choices made easy, accessible and affordable, so that individuals can avoid the serious health consequences of overweight and obesity such as diabetes, heart disease and some cancers to which they may lead.

"During 2013-to-2016, most adults in the Borders were overweight (68 percent), including almost a third who were obese.

"The Borders faces great challenges in this area.

"The most widespread type of diabetes in the Scottish Borders is Type 2 diabetes, which is a largely preventable condition, strongly associated with obesity and being overweight.

"Diabetes can have a significant impact on quality of life due to the rate of acute and chronic complications of diabetes including cardiovascular disease, nerve damage, kidney damage, eye damage, and foot and limb damage.

"Within the Scottish Borders the likelihood of developing Type 2 diabetes has tended to be higher than the Scottish average."

A Borders Diabetes Prevention Partnership has been formed in a bid to tackle the growing problem.

The multiagency collaboration is attempting to improve physical activity through schools, workplaces and communities

Although personal responsibility is key to an active and healthy lifestyle, Dr Patterson believes the bigger picture also needs to be addressed.

He added: "Our diet and activity levels are influenced by multiple factors, many of which are outside our individual control.

"For example, our income, the food our friends and families consume, the food available and affordable in our shops, food’s energy density, the types of outlets around us and promotional and marketing influences all play a role in our daily lives.

"Our physical activity levels are influenced by the transport and planning systems, access to affordable and attractive sports facilities and clubs, stigma and social expectations and many other factors.

"Addressing complex challenges to improve diet and increase physical activity requires the whole system to work collaboratively, bringing together local and national decision-makers within healthcare, transport, planning, education and many other sectors."

The far-ranging report found that improvements had been made to many aspects of health and lifestyles in the Borders.

But it did highlight that close to 20,000 adults in the area have experienced some form of mental health issue, and around 17 per cent of the population have been prescribed medication for conditions such as depression, anxiety, and personal disorders.

Low wages have also led to more than one-in-five children living in relative poverty, harmful alcohol levels are consumed by a around a quarter of all adults, while 17 percent of adults still smoke.

Deaths from drug overdoses in the region, while below national levels, are also on the increase.

The Director of Public Health’s Report 2018 has identified six new public health priorities for the Scottish Borders - to eat well, have a healthy weight and be physically active; to live in vibrant, healthy safe places and communities; to flourish in our early years; to have good mental wellbeing; to reduce the use of, and harm from, alcohol, tobacco and other drugs; and to have a sustainable, inclusive economy with equality of outcomes for all.

These priorities have now been adopted by NHS Borders and Scottish Borders Council as the Scottish Borders Public Health Priorities.

To avoid illnesses such as diabetes it recommended that you eat a healthy, balanced diet with at least five portions of fruit and vegetables each day, and keep active with at least two and a half hours of moderate physical activity per week.