As part of Diabetes Prevention Week (1-7 April), health leaders in Leeds are urging people to make small lifestyle changes to reduce their risk of developing the condition.
More than five million people in England and an estimated 37,000 in Leeds are at high risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. By 2034, it’s estimated that 1 in 10 people will have the condition. People of south Asian or Caribbean ancestry are particularly at risk.
Type 2 diabetes occurs when a person’s blood sugar is too high because their body doesn’t produce enough insulin, or their cells don’t react to insulin. It is a leading cause of preventable sight loss and amputation and a major contributor to kidney failure, heart attack, and stroke. 90% of adults with diabetes have this type but it can often be prevented.
Dr Bryan Power, clinical lead for long term conditions at NHS Leeds Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and a GP at Vesper Road surgery, said “We’re seeing more and more people under 40 developing type 2 diabetes. That’s a real worry because as well as the impact it has on everyday life, it can also have some very serious complications.
“If Type 2, continues to increase as predicted, treating it may account for 15% of our total budget in the next 10 years. That’s a huge amount to be spending on a condition which can often be prevented by maintaining a healthy weight, eating healthily and being more active.
“In Leeds, we have very successful prevention programmes for people identified to be at high risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. Your GP practice can offer advice, support and referral to the programme if you think you are at risk of developing diabetes.”
To find out if you are at risk, you can take an online assessment at https://riskscore.diabetes.org.uk/start or talk to your GP practice.
For patients considered high risk, the NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme (NHS DPP) provides FREE tailored, personalised help to reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes including education on healthy eating and lifestyle, help to lose weight and bespoke physical exercise programmes.
The NHS DPP is available all over the country. So take the test and speak to your GP to find out if you are eligible for a referral.
One Leeds resident who has benefited from the NDPP is Mabel Oikelome, who was referred to the programme by her GP when a blood test revealed she was borderline diabetic.
“I wanted to address the issue straightaway as several family members are diabetic and I realised there was a very real risk I could get the condition,” said Mabel. “My doctor explained that as I have high blood pressure and high cholesterol these could also contribute to it. Admittedly, I had put on weight around my waist and stomach which was unusual for me. I had been a size 10/12 for years but my dress size had gone up over time to a 14/16.”
The Healthier You programme, run locally by health services provider Ingeus, is designed to help participants manage their risk of getting Type 2 diabetes – with a view to reducing or even avoiding that risk altogether.
Mabel, 62, joined a group in Leeds, led by Ingeus educator Halldora Skuladottir.
“I learned a lot about diabetes from Halldora including which foods were better than others (some surprised me) and that sitting down a lot was bad! Like many people, after dinner I would sit down and rest and possibly nod off. The programme reminded me to get up and move around as often as I can.
“The weight loss was slow at first. I felt a little discouraged and fell back into old habits momentarily, but then I reminded myself of my other family members, including my brother who has Type 2 diabetes and I said: “You’ll do yourself serious harm!” Thankfully, I got back on the wagon by cutting down on sugary things and moving around more.”
At the same time, Mabel started her own house-keeping business which kept her on her toes and required her to keep her energy levels up with a healthier diet.
“I started to notice that my clothes were baggier and I went to try on a size 10 and it fit. I was very excited. When I went to the doctors for a check-up, they confirmed that I’d lost five kilos and my cholesterol was much improved.
“It’s obviously not just about the weight, but that is a factor. I feel healthier now. Before, I got tired easily but now I have more energy. I don’t feel my age and I’m stronger. What’s more, it hasn’t just helped me, I’ve been able to share what I’ve learned with my family and I hope we can all be healthier going forward.”
Course educator, Halldora added: “Mabel has done a brilliant job making sustainable changes that have contributed to her improved health. She has given herself the best chance of avoiding long-term health problems and is an example to all her family.”