Health leaders urge people to know their risk on World Diabetes Day

For World Diabetes Day (WDD) on 14 November, health leaders in the city are urging residents to be more aware of the condition and learn how they can prevent or manage it.

Diabetes is a condition in which the amount of glucose (sugar) in the blood is too high because the body is not able to use it properly.

In Leeds, out of a population of around 800,000 people, approximately 44,000 people have diabetes, and a further 36,000 are at high risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.  You’re more at risk if you’re white and over 40 or over 25 if you’re African-Caribbean, Black African, or South Asian.

There are a number of types of diabetes, but the main two types are type 1 and type 2.

Type 1 is where the body’s immune system attacks and destroys the cells that produce insulin. Approximately 10% of adults and 90% of children with diabetes will have type 1. At present, this type cannot be prevented.

Type 2 is where the body doesn’t produce enough insulin, or the body’s cells don’t react properly to insulin. 90% of adults with diabetes have this type but more than half of all cases can be prevented or the onset significantly delayed for many years.

Dr Bryan Power, Clinical Lead for Long Term Conditions at NHS Leeds Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said: “Diabetes can cause a number of serious but preventable health problems. However, if managed well, people with diabetes can lead a full and active life. Vitally, for most people at risk of developing type 2 diabetes, it can be prevented or the onset delayed with the right support.”

“In Leeds, as in the rest of the UK, we’re seeing more and more people, including children, being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. We want everyone to understand that a few simple lifestyle changes like maintaining a healthy weight, eating a balanced diet and exercising regularly can dramatically reduce their risk of developing the condition.”

Shirley Rose from Leeds has done just that. She found out she was at risk of developing type 2 diabetes following a blood test carried out as part of an NHS Health Check at her GP practice.

An NHS Health Check is offered to people aged 40-74 who don’t already have existing cardiovascular disease and is designed to spot early signs of stroke, kidney disease, heart disease, type 2 diabetes or dementia.

Shirley said, “My son has Type 1 diabetes so I really understand the impact that diabetes has on people and their families. He couldn’t do anything to prevent his condition, but I could do something about mine. When I was referred to the NHS Healthier You Diabetes Prevention Programme, I was determined to see it through.

“The programme has been brilliant. I really enjoy the sessions and they opened my eyes to what I was eating. I’ve learned about calories, carbohydrates and fat and how important it is to read labels.

“I now eat smaller portions and make healthier food choices. I also do lots of walking with my husband. I used to hate walking but now I love it!

“The NHS Healthier You Diabetes Prevention Programme has introduced me – and my husband – to healthier living. This is it for us now, we’re going to stick with it because it really works – my last blood test showed that my blood sugar and cholesterol levels had both come down, which is brilliant.

“I’d encourage anyone who’s referred to the programme to take part in it. It’s been life changing for me and it could be for you too.”

If you or someone you know is at risk of or has developed diabetes, there’s lots of help available: