There has been a lot in the news recently about the increasing incidence of Type II Diabetes. So, what’s it all about?
Diabetes is a lifelong condition which is caused by a person’s body either producing less of, or becoming resistant to, the hormone insulin. This causes the blood sugar level to become dangerously high, leading to various ailments of the eyes, heart, kidneys, nerves and blood vessels to name a few.
The high levels of sugar in your blood make you tired all the time, thirstier than usual and also causes you to go to the toilet more frequently, especially at night.
The symptoms of this type of diabetes are usually quite mild and so aren’t typically obvious, meaning some may be living life with diabetes for years before it is actually diagnosed.
Type II diabetes has now reached epidemic levels in many places and this is thought to be mainly due to changes in lifestyle but is also partly due to improved diagnosis and treatment of the disease.
It's far more common than type I diabetes and it is estimated that more than 1 in 16 people in the UK has diabetes (diagnosed or undiagnosed), with this figure rising rapidly, and 90% of these cases being type II. (1)
There are some things which make a person more likely to develop type II diabetes, such as;
- Your age
Most cases are seen in those over the age of 40, but there are now an increasing number of teenagers being diagnosed with the disease.
- Your ethnicity
Being of Asian or African decent puts you at higher risk.
- Your genes
If you have a close member of your family diagnosed (mother, father, brother or sister) than again you are at a higher risk. There is also an increased incidence in males.
- Your weight
Being overweight or obese makes your change of having diabetes much more likely.
Click here to calculate your Body Mass Index (BMI) to see if your weight puts you at risk. (2)
The majority of these things, we unfortunately cannot change. However, we are able to reduce our weight. It’s been said by the NHS that reducing your body weight by even just 5% could reduce your risk of getting diabetes by more than 50%. (3) This can be achieved by making a few simple lifestyle changes.
We have all heard it before and now you’re going to hear it again. The best way to avoid type II diabetes is to;
- Eat better! Eating a healthy, balanced diet, not forgetting the fruit and veg.
- Bin the cigarettes! (if you smoke)
- Drink alcohol in moderation! You don’t need to ditch it all together.
- Get on the move! Take plenty of regular exercise, ideally 30 minutes a day.
If you are diagnosed with diabetes, it’s not the end of the world. There are many treatment options available to keep your blood sugar under control and, when managed well, should have no side effects or complications.
Having said that, prevention is most definitely better than cure!
To further your understanding, take a look at this great list of myths and frequently asked questions on type II diabetes here. (4)
- Choices N.: Department of Health. Type 2 diabetes; 2016 Jul 28 [cited 2016 Apr 20]. Available from: http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Diabetes-type2/Pages/Introduction.aspx
- Diet throughout life; 2014 Nov 10 [cited 2016 Apr 20].
Available from: https://www.bupa.co.uk/health-information/tools-calculators/bmi-calculator
- Choices N.: Department of Health. Type 2 diabetes - causes; 2016 Jul 12 [cited 2016 April 20].
Available from: http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Diabetes-type2/Pages/Causes.aspx
- Myths, questions frequently asked. Myths and frequently asked questions - diabetes UK [cited 2016 Apr 20].
Available from: https://www.diabetes.org.uk/Guide-to-diabetes/What-is-diabetes/Myths-and-FAQs/