Today marks World Diabetes Day 2012, a global initiative to raise awareness of the condition that is fast becoming a modern epidemic.
With nearly three million people with diabetes in the UK, plus an estimated 850,000 who aren’t aware that they have it, it’s important that we raise understanding of a health issue that, in the case of type 2 diabetes, can often be avoided.
This year, World Diabetes Day is concerned with diabetes education and prevention, with special events taking place around the world to inform people about diabetes, as well as to support the 336 million people* who have it worldwide.
It’s estimated that a further 700,000 people in the UK will have diabetes by 2020**, so it’s clear that something has to be done to prevent this from happening. In a bid to support World Diabetes Day, here is the munch guide to Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes.
What is it?
Type 1 diabetes, which accounts for between 5 and 15% of people with diabetes, is most commonly diagnosed in children and adults under 40. This develops when the body is no longer able to produce insulin, which is needed to transport the glucose from our food into the cells for energy. As a result, high levels of glucose are left in the blood and sufferers have a quick onset of symptoms including weight loss, increased thirst and urination, plus blurred vision.
People with Type 1 diabetes need to monitor their blood glucose levels frequently and inject insulin daily. They also need to maintain a healthy lifestyle through a balanced diet and regular exercise. Type 1 diabetes can’t be reversed.
Type 2 diabetes is the most common type, affecting around 85% of diabetics. This is largely lifestyle related and can be prevented, or even reversed. Type 2 diabetics still produce insulin; however this is either not enough or doesn’t work properly. As a result the blood glucose levels keep rising, putting the kidneys under pressure as they produce more urine in a bid to get rid of the excess glucose.
The symptoms of type 2 diabetes are similar to those of type 1 diabetes; however they can develop over a number of years, or may not be noticeable at all. Type 2 diabetics may be put on medication to help manage their insulin and blood glucose levels, but this is largely controlled through diet and exercise.
What are the symptoms?
These are the most recognisable symptoms of diabetes, however not everyone with the condition has all, if any of these. If you or someone you know has any of these symptoms, make an appointment with your GP as soon as possible.
- passing urine more often than usual, especially at night
- increased thirst
- extreme tiredness
- unexplained weight loss
- genital itching or regular episodes of thrush
- slow healing of cuts and wounds
- blurred vision
Who is at risk?
Type 1 diabetes can affect anyone; however there are a number of risk factors that make people more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes. You can help yourself slash your odds of developing diabetes by following a low GL diet and exercising regularly.
You should ask your GP for a test for diabetes if you:
- are white and over 40 years old
- are black, Asian or from a minority ethnic group and over 25 years old
- have one or more of the following risk factors.
The risk factors
- A close member of your family has Type 2 diabetes (parent or brother or sister).
- You’re overweight or if your waist is 31.5 inches or over for women; 35 inches or over for Asian men and 37 inches or over for white and black men.
- You have high blood pressure or you’ve had a heart attack or a stroke.
- You’re a woman with polycystic ovary syndrome and you are overweight.
- You’ve been told you have impaired glucose tolerance or impaired fasting glycaemia.
- If you’re a woman and you’ve had gestational diabetes.
- You have severe mental health problems.
The more risk factors that apply to you, the greater your risk of having diabetes.
Where to go for support:
If you are diabetic, or know someone who is, Diabetes UK is a great resource for more information and support. The charity is dedicated to raising money for research and campaigning on behalf of the UK’s diabetic community, and providing support to those with diabetes. From handy apps to track your blood glucose levels to exclusive members’ magazines and the latest news, they’re your ultimate resource for all things related to diabetes.
If you have diabetes or believe you’re at risk then munch can also be used as a resource for all things related to a healthy lifestyle including recipes, product reviews and recommendations plus top health tips.
*Source: International Diabetes Federation **Source: Diabetes UK