It’s Type 2 Diabetes Prevention Week. Here’s what you need to know about your risk of developing this condition
What if you had a serious medical condition — which increased your risk of stroke, heart disease, sight loss and amputations — yet, if spotted in time, could possibly be put into remission?
Around 13.6 million people in the UK are currently at an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, with over three-quarters of a million people estimated to be living with the condition unaware that they have it.
Douglas Twenefour, Deputy Head of Care at Diabetes UK, says: ‘Through recent research we’ve seen that some people with type 2 diabetes can put their condition into remission. This means many people may no longer need medication to manage their condition.’
What are the keys to a successful remission journey?
Douglas says: ‘The first is early diagnosis. While remission is possible many years after diagnosis, the earlier you’re diagnosed and start your remission journey, the better your chance of success. The second, and most important, is getting the right support from your healthcare team and those around you.’
How does remission work?
Douglas says: ‘The strongest evidence we have suggests type 2 diabetes is mainly put into remission by weight loss. We recommend people aim to lose 15kg, although some people may be able to go into remission after losing less weight. Unfortunately, not everyone can go into remission, but there are still huge benefits in the weight-loss journey, so it’s always worth trying.’
How do you go into remission?
Douglas says: ‘We have strong evidence for two different approaches that can lead to remission — weight-loss surgery, or the low-calorie diet. This is a short-term diet made up of around 850 calories a day, in which people are given low-calorie replacement diet products, such as soups or shakes, for three months. After this, they’re supported to reintroduce normal, healthy foods back into their diet to help maintain their weight.
‘For those wanting a more gradual approach, diets like the low-carb diet or Mediterranean diet may help people go into remission over a longer period — whatever works for you.
‘Always discuss any diet with your healthcare team so they can check it’s safe and suitable for you as you might have to make changes to your medication. It can also be useful to discuss your exercise, as combined with the right diet, this can also be a great tool for weight loss and improving your general health.
‘But it’s important to go for annual reviews including eye screening. Remission needs to be maintained, and the best way to do that is through regular monitoring with the support of your healthcare team.’
What about those at risk who haven’t been diagnosed?
Douglas says: ‘Weight loss is the best way to reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes. However, not everyone at risk of type 2 diabetes needs to lose weight, which is why choosing healthier foods is so important.
‘Eating fruit and vegetables — especially green, leafy veg — wholegrains, yogurt and cheese can also reduce your risk, while refined carbohydrates, red and processed meat, alcohol, sugary drinks and smoking all increase your risk.
‘Certain factors such as your age, ethnicity, family history, some health conditions and your weight all influence your risk of type 2 diabetes.’
Edited by Stephanie May
Type 2 Diabetes Prevention Week runs until 29 May. Do you know your risk of developing the condition? Diabetes UK’s free online Know Your Risk tool takes just minutes to complete and gives you information and support to help you reduce your risk. Visit diabetes.org.uk or search ‘Know Your Risk’.
SPOT THE SIGNS
If you develop any of these symptoms, visit your GP as soon as possible
Feeling thirstier than usual.
Peeing more often, especially at night.
Losing weight without trying.
Feeling more tired than usual.
Developing thrush repeatedly.
Sores, cuts or burns taking longer to heal.