Around 90% of people with diabetes in the England have type 2 diabetes. With currents trends suggesting that 1 in 10 people might have the condition by 2030, preventing type 2 diabetes is more important now than ever before.
“People with an ethnic origin from the Indian subcontinent are at much higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes. The condition generally develops at younger ages and at lower levels of excess weight compared to what is typically seen in people of white ethnicities.”
says Dr Chirag Bakhai, a GP and Primary Care Advisor to the NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme.
Dr Bakhai continues, “Type 2 diabetes can have serious complications such as blindness, nerve damage and ulcers leading to amputations, as well as increasing the risks of heart attacks and strokes. The best way to avoid the complications is to prevent the condition in the first place. For people at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes, adopting a healthy lifestyle with regular physical activity and keeping off excess body weight can make all the difference.”
Whilst factors such as family history, pre-existing health conditions, age, and ethnicity are all risk factors, lifestyle choices, such as diet and physical activity, remain the crucial markers in determining the likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes and its prevention.
The NHS offers the free Healthier You NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme for those at risk. Lasting nine months, this behavioural and lifestyle change programme has seen over 1.3M people referred to it to help lower their blood sugar levels through making sustainable changes to their diet and physical activity and, ultimately, avoid the onset of type 2 diabetes.
Harry Matharu joined the programme after his GP diagnosed him as having non-diabetic hyperglycaemia (pre-diabetes); he says, “The programme changed my lifestyle, I now swim or run most days. I am full of energy instead of lethargic and tired. I am also mindful of my diet and have gone from a size 42 waist to a size 28, I couldn’t feel happier”.
“Being of Indian origin, I knew that we are at a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes, but I didn’t think it would happen to me”,
says Kishor Chauhan from Greenford, who started attending the Healthier You NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme after routine blood tests showed high sugar levels.
Kishor continues, “Although I was already active and had a good fruit and veg diet, I must admit I indulged in sweets. The lifestyle changes I have made have helped me reduce my blood sugar level and I have also lost 7kg in weight. I highly recommend those at risk of type 2 diabetes join the programme”.
Type 2 diabetes risk factors:
- Your age – The older you are, the greater your risk will likely be. However, people from South Asian ethnic groups tend to be at risk at a younger age.
- Your family history – You are two to six times more likely to get type 2 diabetes if you have a parent, brother, sister or child with the condition
- Your ethnicity – You are more likely to get type 2 diabetes if you are from a Chinese, South Asian, Black Caribbean or Black African ethnic background
- Your weight – You are more at risk of type 2 diabetes if you are living with obesity or carry excess weight
- Your blood pressure – You are more at risk if you’ve ever been diagnosed with high blood pressure.
The Healthier You NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme can help you to take control of your health and manage your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
With the support of dedicated trained coaches and experts, you can make small, manageable changes to your diet, physical activity routine, and weight management, reducing your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Participants can choose between face-to-face groups in local venues and a digital service providing coaching through apps and websites.
The latest evaluation of the programme has shown a 20% reduction in type 2 diabetes incidence amongst individuals who have been referred to the Healthier You NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme. Previous analyses have shown that people completing the programme have a 37% lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
To find out if you are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes, search for “diabetes know your risk” online and complete a few simple questions on the Diabetes UK website, including about your age, ethnicity and if you have a close relative with diabetes.
If the tool says that you are at moderate or high risk of developing type 2 diabetes, contact your GP practice for a simple blood test to check your sugar levels and assess for diabetes. If you are found to have non-diabetic hyperglycaemia (pre-diabetes), you might be eligible for a referral to the Healthier You NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme.