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Type 2 Diabetes Prevention Week

Type 2 Diabetes Prevention Week takes place from Monday 20th May to Sunday 26th May. This annual event serves as a crucial reminder of the growing impact of Type 2 diabetes in the UK and the importance of prevention and management.

In the UK, around 3.9 million people are diagnosed with the condition. Additionally, it is estimated that around 1 million people have Type 2 diabetes but have not been diagnosed yet. This means that approximately 1 in 15 people in the UK are living with Type 2 diabetes, and the numbers are rising. It is estimated that diabetes prevalence in the UK will reach 5.3 million by 2025.

What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a chronic condition affecting how the body metabolises sugar (glucose), using insulin to turn glucose into energy. Individuals suffering from diabetes either produce too little insulin, or the insulin they produce isn’t effective enough to carry out this process. The result is high blood sugar levels which, if not properly managed, can cause physical complications.

There are two main types of diabetes: Type 1 and Type 2.

Type 1 diabetes accounts for around 10% of the UK’s diabetic cases. It is an autoimmune condition and generally runs in families. It usually develops in childhood and requires lifelong treatment in the form of insulin injections.

Type 2 diabetes is associated with obesity and is generally diagnosed in adults. There are numerous risk factors for Type 2 diabetes including genetics, physical inactivity, unhealthy diet, age, and ethnicity. According to Diabetes UK, there are 13.6 million people in the UK at increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, however unlike Type 1, lifestyle changes can reduce the risk of developing it.

What to look out for:

The symptoms for both type 1 and type 2 diabetes are very similar.

  • Increased thirst
  • Low energy levels
  • More regular urination, particularly during the night
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Slow healing of cuts
  • Regular attacks of thrush
  • Blurred vision

Diabetes in the workplace

People living with diabetes are usually perfectly capable of managing their disease without it impacting their work. Businesses can confidently employ diabetics without concern. In fact, the 2010 Equality Act makes it illegal to discriminate in cases where an individual’s diabetes qualifies as a disability.

Individuals are not required to disclose their diabetes nor are employers allowed to request such disclosure. However, forward-thinking organisations can take a proactive approach to support diabetic employees and work towards combatting the causes and impact of Type 2 diabetes.

Factors such as ensuring employees can take adequate meal breaks, the physical demands of the role, and whether an employee will be working at night or in isolation should all be taken into consideration, regardless of whether the individual is managing diabetes or not.

Preventing Type 2 diabetes

A positive and proactive approach to health and wellbeing is by far the best step for prevention and management against the rising prevalence of Type 2 diabetes.

Here are a few simple lifestyle changes you can implement to get started:

  • “Know your numbers”
    Checks of blood glucose, as well as blood pressure and cholesterol, serve as powerful early indicators of underlying health conditions. These simple screenings can unveil potential risks for diabetes, heart disease, and other ailments. By regularly monitoring these numbers, individuals can take proactive steps toward a healthier lifestyle and potentially prevent serious health issues down the road.
  • Engage in regular exercise
    Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week. Consider riding a bike to work, join or set up a lunchtime walking group, or see if your employer offers any gym or health club memberships to get yourself moving each day.
  • Adopt a healthy diet
    Enjoy a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. Opt for healthy snacks in breakrooms avoiding those with poor nutritional value like crisps, chocolates, and soft drinks. Most importantly, dedicate time to take your meal breaks to ensure adequate energy release throughout the day.
  • Limit alcohol consumption and stop smoking
    Giving up smoking and reducing alcohol intake, will help lower risks of Type 2 diabetes.

Type 2 Diabetes Prevention Week serves as an important reminder of the growing impact of Type 2 diabetes in the UK and the importance of prevention, early diagnosis, and effective management. By raising awareness, understanding the symptoms and causes, and providing support in the workplace, we can work together to prioritise lifestyle changes for prevention and reduce the prevalence.

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