28 May 2012
Latest figures suggest that the number of people in Britain developing obesity-related diabetes is rising at a faster rate than in America, where the disease has become one of the biggest killers.
Figures (published in 2008) suggest that the number of people newly diagnosed with diabetes has more than doubled from 83,000 in 2006 to 167,000 in 2008.
Type-1 disease is commonly diagnosed in childhood, and is caused by the loss of cells in the pancreas that produce insulin, the hormone that controls levels of sugar in the bloodstream.
There are 2.5 million people in Britain suffering from the type-2 version of the disease, which is related to sedentary lifestyles and the growth in obesity. Type-2 disease, or late-onset diabetes, is usually diagnosed in people over the age of 40 although there are increasing reports of it being diagnosed in younger patients. It is mainly caused by a growing insensitivity to insulin, and is linked to obesity.
Research shows that losing weight can reduce the risk of developing type-2 diabetes by 58 per cent. People who are overweight, under active or over the age of 45 should consider themselves at risk for developing diabetes.
Diabetes becomes much worse when the disease is not properly treated and it can lead to serious complications, increasing the risk of fatal heart attack or stroke and other serious medical conditions. The earlier diabetes is diagnosed, the greater the potential of effectively avoiding cardiovascular disease. Early detection can be easily accomplished through a simple blood test.
Long-term complications of diabetes include foot and leg ulcers, stroke, blindness, kidney problems, heart disease and damage to the peripheral blood vessels. The disease is treated by changes to lifestyle, medication to lower sugar levels in the blood, or by insulin injections in extreme cases.
If you are white and over 40 years old, or if you’re black, Asian or from a minority ethnic group and over 25 years old and have one or more of the following risk factors, you should ask your GP for a test for diabetes:
Having diabetes in the family puts you at risk. The closer the relative is, the greater the risk. So if your mum or dad has diabetes, rather than your aunt or uncle, it’s more likely you will develop the condition too.
African-Caribbean or South Asian people who live in the UK are at least five times more likely to have diabetes than the white population.
Not all people with diabetes are overweight but the stats show that over 80 per cent of people diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes are overweight. The more overweight and the more inactive you are the greater your risk.
Women: if your waist measures 31.5in (80cm) or more you’ve got an increased risk.
Men: if you’re white or black and your waist is 37in (94cm) or more you have an increased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. If you’re an Asian man the figure is 35in (90cm) or more.
To measure your waist, the measurement needs to be taken at the mid-point between the top of the hip bone and the lowest rib. Ensure the tape is snug, but does not compress the skin and is parallel to the floor. The measurement should be taken when the person being measured has breathed out.
The more risk factors that apply to you, the greater your risk of having diabetes.
World Diabetes Day is on 14 November every year.