It is the time of year where many parents purchase chocolate Easter Eggs of various sizes and children may eat more refined sugar than they are normally allowed. With global diabetes on the rise we want to take this opportunity to consider the facts about Diabetes and how you (and your children) can reduce their risk.
According to the WHO (World Health Organisation) the total number of people with diabetes in the world has risen from 108 million in 1980 to 422 million in 2014. In 2014, 8.5% of adults aged 18 years and older had diabetes. If this trend continues, the WHO projects that diabetes will be the seventh leading cause of death by 2030.
Type 2 also known as ‘adult-onset’ diabetes, makes up the majority of people with diabetes around the world. It is a chronic disease that arises as a result of the body’s ineffective use of insulin. This occurs predominantly when there is excess body weight and physical inactivity. We know today that genetics plays a role in the chances of developing both type 1 and 2 diabetes. If either parent has diabetes, the average risk of a child developing type 2 diabetes is 15%.
Impaired glucose tolerance (IGT) and impaired fasting glucose (IFG) are intermediate conditions involving the presence of raised blood glucose levels. Both conditions increase the chance of progression to type 2 diabetes. This is however not inevitable, as we know that early intervention as highlighted below, can halt this progression.
What can you do to reduce your risk of developing diabetes?
The answer is preventative measures. Simple lifestyle changes are known to be very effective in delaying or even preventing the onset of type 2 diabetes and its complications.
Body weight – It is essential to achieve and maintain a healthy body weight (BMI 18.5 to 24.9). Being overweight increases the chances of developing type 2 diabetes seven fold, while being obese increases that risk by 20 to 40 times. Gradual weight loss of 5-10% of body weight over a period of 1 year is recommended in the overweight and obese.
Eating a healthy diet – low in refined carbohydrates and sugar while choosing whole grain products is essential in diabetes prevention. Fibre found in whole grains helps to slow the breakdown of carbohydrates into sugar, leading to slower increases in blood glucose. Reducing saturated and trans fats in favour of mono- and polyunsaturated fats, while increasing the consumption of fruits, vegetables, legumes and nuts help to ward off diabetes.
Alcohol – a few studies have suggested that moderate alcohol intake (up to a drink a day for women and up to 2 drinks a day for men) can decrease the risk of type 2 diabetes, however higher amounts have the total opposite effect.
Get active – a sedentary lifestyle promotes diabetes. Working your muscles more often and harder improves their ability to use insulin and absorb glucose. There are many simple ways to increase physical activity – walking or cycling to work, cleaning the house or taking the stairs instead of the lift. A combination of aerobic exercise (swimming, jogging, brisk walking or water aerobics) and resistance training of at least 30 minutes duration at a moderate-intensity level most days of the week have been proven beneficial.
Smoking – tobacco use can increase the risk of diabetes by roughly 50%. Avoidance is therefore crucial as smoking also increases the risk for cardiovascular disease and certain cancers.
Diabetes can be combatted through a focus on changing lifestyle choices. Simple measures and setting targets can have a significant effect on your health and well-being. Speak to your Doctor if you require additional information or are concerned about diabetes.
Dr Vinu Sahlén is based at IMC Camden.
Dr Vinu speaks German and Swedish. Please call: 67334440 to make an appointment.