Focus on… Diabetes, the silent killer?
the number of people diagnosed has increased by 60% in the past decade. We reveal what might be to blame
How many people do you think have diabetes in the UK? as many as one million? or even two million? It’s actually a staggering 4.5 million people living with this debilitating condition. and 1 million of these people are not even aware they have it. So how can you make sure you’re not next? natasha marsland, senior clinical advisor at Diabetes UK (diabetes.org.uk), reveals the simple steps we can take to stop diabetes in its tracks.
The diabetes low-down
Diabetes is a condition that impacts your blood sugar levels. there are two main types – type 1 and type 2. ‘they are very different conditions,’ explains natasha. type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease where your body attacks and destroys insulin-producing cells. ‘your pancreas shuts down completely and you don’t produce any insulin, causing the glucose to quickly rise in your blood.’ this is why symptoms – including feeling thirsty and tired, needing to pee more often, unexplained weight loss and blurred vision – are often more intense and obvious. the reason for type 1 diabetes is not yet known as, unlike type 2, lifestyle is not a cause.’ With the more common type 2 diabetes, your pancreas may still produce insulin, ‘but the amount may be reduced or the insulin it produces doesn’t work properly, meaning symptoms are not always obvious or develop gradually,’ explains natasha.
A weighty problem
type 2 diabetes, which makes up 90% of all cases, is experiencing the greater increase. and, according to natasha, our waistlines are to blame. ‘type 2 diabetes is increasing year on year because we’re becoming a heavier nation,’ she explains. if a woman has a waist size of more than 31.5 inches, it raises the likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes. that’s why eating healthily and moving more is key.
But why does it matter?
‘Diabetes is a serious, lifelong condition,’ warns natasha. if left untreated, high glucose levels can damage blood vessels, nerves and organs and cause kidney disease, heart disease and even blindness. but you can take several steps to reduce your risk, and even put it into remission, if you’re diagnosed with it.