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Carrying a bit of extra weight? Get to know your risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes

Diabetes is a growing problem in Norfolk and Waveney with just under 68,000 people living with diabetes, over 65,000 of whom are living with the preventable Type 2 diabetes. A further 110,000 adults locally are also estimated to be living with prediabetes.

Prediabetes describes people whose blood sugars are higher than they should be which puts them at very high risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.

Diabetes is a serious, lifelong condition that affects day-to-day wellbeing and poses a significant risk to health. People living with diabetes face higher risk of heart disease, stroke, nerve damage, foot problems and amputations, vision loss, kidney problems, and dying with COVID-19.

One in six people in hospital have diabetes, and while diabetes is often not the reason for admission, they often need a longer stay in hospital, are more likely to be re-admitted, and their risk of dying is higher.

That’s why health leaders in Norfolk and Waveney are urging everyone to know their risks of developing diabetes to help prevent premature death and reduce the risk of developing diabetes-related health complications that will reduce quality of life.

The risk factors for developing Type 2 diabetes are:

  • You’re more at risk if you’re overweight, especially if you’re large around the middle
  • The older you are, the more at risk you are.
  • Family history. You’re two to six times more likely to get Type 2 diabetes if you have a parent, brother, sister or child with diabetes
  • You’re more likely to get Type 2 diabetes if you’re Chinese, South Asian, African-Caribbean or Black-African
  • Blood pressure. You’re more at risk if you’ve ever had high blood pressure.

This week (23 - 29 May) is National Type 2 Diabetes Prevention Week which aims to shed light on the condition, its symptoms and impacts in order to encourage people to understand the risks and take action early.

Dr Clare Hambling, GP clinical lead for diabetes with NHS Norfolk and Waveney Clinical Commissioning Group, said “Maintaining a healthy weight, through eating a healthy, balanced diet and keeping physically active, is the main thing you can do to reduce your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. Knowing your level of risk early on is so important to motivate you to make those lifestyle changes that will have a positive benefit to your quality of life.

“We are working with GP practices to support and encourage them to refer patients into the NHS Healthier You Diabetes Prevention programme to provide that support many people need to make these lifestyle changes and stay motivated. 

“People can also check their personal risk of developing the disease via the online Diabetes UK Know Your Risk tool and then self-refer into the support programme to cut their risk if it comes out as high.”

The Healthier You: NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme (NHS DPP) identifies those at high risk of developing Type 2 diabetes and refers them onto a behaviour change programme. Through this programme, people are supported in making changes to different areas of their lifestyle such as nutrition, physical activity, and mental health, all of which have been proven to reduce the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.

The programme helps to keep people on track and motivated to stick with the changes they’re making. A recent attendee of the programme in Norfolk and Waveney said:

I have certainly benefited from a greater understanding of how the body deals with fats and sugars and that has made the dietary and exercise requirements far easier to implement and maintain than might otherwise have been the case.”

If you are concerned you may be at risk, visit https://riskscore.diabetes.org.uk/start and try the Know Your Risk questionnaire, this will only take a few minutes. People with a high or moderate risk score can refer themselves to the programme and are advised to ask their GP to carry out a diagnostic blood test.

If you are identified as being at risk of developing diabetes, speak to your GP about whether you are eligible for the NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme.

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