Do you know your risk of developing Diabetes?
More people than ever are living with diabetes.
Nearly 5 million people in the UK have some form of diabetes, including around 850,000 who are yet to be diagnosed.
In 2006, the total number of people diagnosed with diabetes was 2.1 million, meaning new cases have more than doubled in the 16 years since then.
In addition, Diabetes UK estimate that a further 13.6 million people are now at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.
What is Diabetes?
After you eat, carbohydrates break down into glucose, a type of sugar your body stores for energy. For that energy to be released into your cells, insulin is needed to regulate the blood sugar levels.
For people with diabetes, this process doesn’t work effectively as there isn’t enough insulin in their system to move the glucose around. Blood sugar levels continue to rise after eating, often leading to fatigue, thirst and other symptoms.
There are two types of diabetes. Type 1 is when a person’s body is unable to produce insulin, and Type 2, when insulin is produced, but the body is resistant to it. 90% of diabetics have type 2.
Diabetes has some potentially serious complications. It greatly increases your risk of heart or kidney disease, suffering a stroke or having problems associated with your eyes or feet, which can lead to loss of vision or amputation.
Being aware of the symptoms of diabetes is important, but as it can develop very slowly, knowing your underlying risk is vital.
Knowing your risk
A range of factors can make it more likely you will develop type 2 diabetes; some you can influence, others you can’t.
Diabetes UK’s online checker helps you find your risk by answering a few simple questions.
An increasingly inactive lifestyle and poor diet are thought to be some of the main causes of the increase in diabetes diagnoses in recent years. NHS support is available to help people make changes in these areas to reduce their risk.
Having high blood pressure, carrying extra weight around your middle and the amount your drink and smoke can also make it more likely you may get diabetes.
Unfortunately, some risk factors cannot be influenced, but it is important to be aware of them.
- Family history is a strong indicator. If you have a close relative – parent, sibling, or child – with diabetes, you are up to six times more likely to develop it,
- Risk increases with age. For South Asian, African-Caribbean, or Black African people, their risk increases once after age 25. For white people, their risk goes up at 40.
Reducing your risk
There is good news: making straightforward changes in your life can greatly reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes – in some cases, by up to 50%.
Eating well can make a difference. Cutting down on red meat and sugary drinks and choosing higher fibre carbohydrates.
Moving more is also key. A regularly walk, online exercise class or taking up a sport will make a difference, but generally, anything that means you spend less time sitting and more time being active will help.
Both suggestions above can help you to lose weight and lower your blood pressure.
The NHS is here to offer you support, advice and guidance on reducing your risk of developing diabetes.
The NHS Better Health webpages have ideas, information and support to help you lose weight and get active, including the Couch to 5k app and how to swap healthier food into your diet.
A free weight management programme is also available for people in Newcastle, without needing to see your GP first.
By using the Know Your Risk tool you may also find you are eligible for a Diabetes Prevention Programme.