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World diabetes day highlights an increasing risk to health

14 November 2017


Here in the UK, it is estimated that 4.5 million people are living with diabetes, and that around 700 people are diagnosed with the disease every day. That’s the equivalent of one person every two minutes.

These are some of the worrying statistics being promoted as part of this year’s World Diabetes Day on 14 November 2017.

Healthier You: the NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme, launched across Bedfordshire and Luton in May 2017. It aims to help people at high risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, identified through a blood test with their GP practice, to avoid the potentially devastating disease. So far, more than 3,500 people have been referred on to the programme, available free-of-charge on the NHS.

Its sessions cover nutrition, exercise and suggested behavioural changes to maintain a healthy weight and become more physically active. The programme is delivered in the region by health specialist Ingeus and is commissioned by NHS England.

Type 2 diabetes usually appears in middle-aged or older people, although it is increasingly being diagnosed in younger overweight people. It occurs when the body is not controlling blood sugars properly, usually because it is not responding well to the insulin it is making. This is often related to excess weight as fat tissue tends to reduce the body’s sensitivity to insulin.

But, as Luton man Raj Rajnikant is discovering, lifestyle changes can effectively reduce the risk of developing diabetes and reduce high blood sugars. The 65-year-old retired machine operator was referred by his GP to Healthier You: the NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme in August and said:

“Since retiring in January, I haven’t been as active as when I was at work all day and the pounds had started to pile on. When my GP identified high blood glucose levels it was no surprise and I knew that I needed to do something proactive to help myself.”

Raj began attending regular Healthier You group sessions at Hockwell Ring Community Centre with Ingeus educator Michael Bellamy.

“It was really good meeting people in a similar situation and Michael’s support has already paid off,” continues Raj. “I’ve lost five kilograms and my blood sugar level has returned to a normal level. The sessions have really helped, we’ve covered elements of food preparation, portion control, and how to take simple steps to become more active. I’m looking forward to continuing the good work.”

Ingeus educator Michael Bellamy said: “It can be challenging to make changes to your routine but the Healthier You programme gives people the confidence and inspiration to take control and reduce their risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. The rewards are great and can lead to a much healthier life.”

Dr. Chirag Bakhai, Clinical Director for Planned Care for Luton Clinical Commissioning Group and local GP, said: “Type 2 diabetes is a leading cause of blindness, kidney disease and leg problems requiring amputation. It also roughly doubles the risk of heart attacks and strokes. Worryingly, more people than ever are developing the condition, despite it being potentially preventable through regular physical activity and maintaining a healthy weight. On World Diabetes Day, we want to raise awareness of the Healthier You programme and its hands-on support to help people avoid type 2 diabetes. It has an extremely important role in helping the people of Luton and Beds at high risk of developing diabetes gain control of their health and wellbeing”

Healthier You: NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme is a joint commitment from NHS England, Public Health England and Diabetes UK. The service became available in Luton in May 2017 with regular sessions running at Hightown Community Centre, Hockwell Ring Community Centre, Inspire Sports Town and Chaul End Community Centre. In Bedfordshire, the sessions are available at Queens Park Community Centre and St Andrews Church in Bedford, Parkside Community Hall, Ampthill, Sandy Sports Centre, The Grove Theatre, Dunstable and The Village Hall, Barton Le Clay.

To assess your own risk of developing diabetes, use the Diabetes UK Know Your Risk tool at https://riskscore.diabetes.org.uk/ or, if you are aged between 40 and 75 years without any known cardiovascular disease, accept your five-yearly invitation for a free NHS Health Check.

For more information about Healthier You: NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme please ask your GP practice or visit www.stopdiabetes.co.uk 

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