Know Diabetes. Fight Diabetes

This week is national Diabetes Week – an annual event dedicated to increasing awareness, changing perceptions, and raising much needed funds for research to help improve diabetes care and prevention. This year’s theme is ‘Know Diabetes. Fight Diabetes’ and over the last few days I’ve been learning more about how we can protect ourselves and our families and help fight the challenges that diabetes presents. So what did I find out…?

  1. Not everyone who has diabetes knows they have diabetes…

Diabetes is a lifelong condition and left undiagnosed or unmanaged it can lead to serious, sometimes life threatening, health complications. Today, about 4.5 million people in the UK are living with diabetes, and nearly a quarter of them aren’t yet diagnosed1. This means more than 1 million people are currently living with diabetes and might not even know it! That’s why it’s so important that we all understand more about who’s at risk, what the symptoms are, and when and how we can get support.

  1. Not all diabetes is preventable, but some is…

1 in every 10 people living with diabetes has Type 11, an autoimmune condition which is not preventable. At the moment we don’t know what triggers the condition, but we do know it’s not related to lifestyle2. Type 1 tends to be diagnosed early in life, and we’re at greater risk if we have a close relative who’s diabetic3. At the moment there is no cure for Type 1 diabetes, but the symptoms can be managed with regular insulin treatment, and by eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly.

The majority of people living with diabetes have Type 21. Type 2 diabetes is associated with lifestyle factors, including overweight and obesity4 (although not all Type 2 diabetics are overweight), and is usually diagnosed in older people. But it can appear much earlier in black and South Asian people, who are at greater risk4 and worryingly, it’s becoming more and more common in children and young people5. Again, our risk of Type 2 diabetes is increased if we have a close relative with the condition, but 3 in 5 cases are thought to be preventable1. This is good news, as it means there’s lots we can do to  reduce our risk, such as eating a healthy diet, losing weight (if we need to), maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly, not smoking, and only drinking alcohol in moderation.

  1. Bradford is already fighting back…

In Bradford we have higher rates of Type 2 diabetes than the UK average6. But since 2013 the ‘Bradford Beating Diabetes’ campaign has been tackling diabetes head on. Working across the district, BBD aims to identify everyone at risk, to make sure those people receive the appropriate advice, care and support to delay the onset of Type 2 diabetes, and to help those who already have the condition to manage it and prevent serious complications. BBD support people in Bradford to be aware of their risk, to have healthier lifestyles, and to be in control of the choices they make to protect their health. Their website provides a range of useful information and resources, including advice on managing diabetes during Ramadan.

For more information on diabetes and how to get involved in Diabetes Week visit Diabetes UK or for some more personal views and some truly inspiring stories visit their blog site here.

You can also read about Born in Bradford’s diabetes research here.

Thank you for reading our blog; we hope that we’ve given you something to think about this Diabetes Week and that you share some of what you know with your friends and families!

Sara Ahern- Research Fellow Better Start Bradford Innovation Hub

References:

  1. https://www.diabetes.org.uk/Documents/Position%20statements/DiabetesUK_Facts_Stats_Oct16.pdf
  2. https://www.diabetes.org.uk/Diabetes-the-basics/What-is-Type-1-diabetes/Type-1-diabetes-in-pictures/
  3. http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Diabetes-type1/Pages/Introduction.aspx
  4. http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Diabetes-type2/Pages/Causes.aspx
  5. https://www.diabetes.org.uk/Diabetes-the-basics/What-is-Type-2-Diabetes/
  6. https://www.bradfordbeatingdiabetes.nhs.uk/about
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