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

Woman (UK) - - This Isssue -

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.

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