Focus on Diabetes

World Diabetes Day – 14th November

“Diabetes is a serious life-long health condition that occurs when the amount of glucose (sugar) in the blood is too high because the body can’t use it properly. If left untreated, high blood glucose levels can cause serious health complications.” (

Diabetes is Everywhere

In 2014 there were an estimated 422 million people with Diabetes worldwide and this is expected to rise to over 640 million by 2040. About half of these will be undiagnosed and therefore untreated!

Since 1996, the number of people diagnosed with diabetes in the UK alone has risen from 1.4 million to over 4 million, rising to 5 million by 2025. Over half a million of these will be undiagnosed and therefore untreated!

Treating Diabetes, or more often the effects of Diabetes, costs the NHS in the UK over £1.5m an hour or 10% of the NHS budget for England and Wales!

What Causes Diabetes?

Diabetes comes in two main types (although there are other rare ones). These are Type 1 and Type 2. They’re different conditions, caused by different things, but they are both serious and need to be treated and managed properly.

Diabetes is due to either the body not producing enough insulin, the hormone which allows sugar to enter our cells from the blood to produce energy, or the cells of the body not responding properly to the insulin produced.

The vast majority of sufferers (about 90%) have Type 2 Diabetes which, in most cases, is linked to a poor lifestyle, especially diet, and obesity. With nearly 70% of the UK population being climatically obese (and increasing) these figures will continue to rise.

Interesting Fact: Diabetes means “Sweet Water” because excess sugar is excreted into the urine making it sweet. No, I don’t know who tried it first.

Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune condition where the body attacks and destroys insulin-producing cells, meaning no insulin is produced. This causes glucose to quickly rise in the blood especially after meals which, if left untreated, can lead to coma and even death.

It’s got nothing to do with diet or lifestyle.

About 10 per cent of people with diabetes have Type 1.

Type 2 Diabetes

In Type 2 diabetes, the body doesn’t make enough insulin, or the insulin it makes doesn’t work properly, meaning glucose builds up in the blood. This is generally less dramatic than in Type 1 but can lead to blindness and amputation if left untreated.

Although believed to be related to genetics, up to 58 per cent of Type 2 diabetes cases can be delayed or prevented through a healthy lifestyle.

About 90 per cent of people with diabetes have Type 2.

Dispel those Diabetes Myths

Myth 1: People with diabetes can’t eat sugar

People with diabetes CAN eat sugar but as part of a balanced diet.

And while were on the subject, naturally occurring sugars like those in fresh fruit and vegetables are good for you as thy come with all the extra vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fibre. Refined sugars, like white granulated sugar and syrup should be avoided but they are often “hidden” in ready made foods.

Take care and read the ingredients.

Myth 2: Type 2 diabetes is mild

No form of diabetes is mild and all should be regarded as potentially life threatening.

Of course, good control of diabetes can significantly decrease the risk of complications but this doesn’t mean the condition itself is not serious.

Myth 3: Type 2 diabetes only affects fat people

Around 20% of people with type 2 diabetes are of a normal weight, or even underweight!

Controlling your weight to reduce obesity is, of course, the best way to help reduce your risk of Type 2 Diabetes or even to prevent it! Check with your GP first.

Myth 4: People with diabetes should only eat diabetic food

Diabetic food will often still affect blood glucose levels, is expensive, and may also cause adverse side effects such as diarrhoea.

Diabetes. Useful Links

If you want to find out more, speak to your GP and why not check out these useful links …

Diabetes UK

World Diabetes Day (14th November)

Diabetes – NHS Choices

Lions Clubs International