Diabetes is increasing on a global scale. Even more concerning is the fact that you could be a sufferer without knowing it. According to Diabetes UK, between 1996 and 2010 the number of people diagnosed with diabetes increased from 1.4 million to 2.6 million. It is estimated that another 0.5million people have the disease but are undiagnosed. By 2025 it is estimated that over 4 million people in the UK will have diabetes. The majority of these cases (roughly 90%) are Type 2 diabetes.
Diabetes is not new – in the seventeenth century it was called the ‘pissing evil’ – but it is on the increase. There are two types of diabetes. Type 1 is more commonly found in children and young adults and is treated with a strict diet and insulin injections. It’s Type 2 that is on the increase and is strongly linked to obesity and a lack of activity. There are other risk factors over which we have no control, such as genetic inheritance, simply getting older and your ethnic origin – people from Asian and Afro-Caribbean backgrounds do seem to be at a higher risk. Eating lots of sweet things, contrary to popular belief, doesn’t cause diabetes, but it leads to weight gain, which does increase your risk. It’s a fact that 80% of people with Type 2 diabetes are overweight. The fatter and less fit you are, the greater your risk.
Type 2 diabetes used to be more common in middle age, but increasingly it’s affecting younger people too. Those with the condition either don’t produce enough insulin or what is produced doesn’t work effectively, which means that the body can’t use glucose properly and levels remain high in the blood. Some of the symptoms of undiagnosed diabetes include increased thirst, a need to go to the toilet often, especially at night, lethargy and tiredness, blurred vision, regular thrush and genital itching, plus weight loss when nothing else has changed regarding your lifestyle. Doctors say many people have these symptoms on and off for years before eventually being diagnosed as diabetic, which is easily done with a simple blood test.
The World Health Organization thinks Type 2 diabetes is a big issue. It is predicting a global epidemic of diabetes, which means that it already is an issue for you and it will definitely be an issue for your children. In many developing countries, people are getting diabetes at a staggering rate because they eat all the newly available refined foods. How many people do you know who have diabetes? Why don’t you ask them what they think about this? You might be very surprised at their response.
In the past, if you were diagnosed as having diabetes, physical activity was discouraged and a high fat/low carbohydrate diet prescribed. How times change! Now exercise is encouraged, just as it is for everyone to improve their health and control weight. As a role model, look to Sir Steve Redgrave, five times Olympic Gold medal winner and a diabetes sufferer! Diet-wise, the reason a high fat diet was recommended was to make up for the lack of calories that resulted from following a low carbohydrate diet to keep sugar levels stable (fat doesn’t boost sugar levels in itself ). Diabetics are more at risk of heart disease as a result of the condition, but of course the high fat diet increased this risk! Luckily, research has moved on, with eating guidelines for diabetics pretty much in line with general healthy eating recommendations. As well as using medication and being under strict medical supervision, most diabetics can control their condition and also lose weight by eating in the most healthful way.
Four out of five people with the condition die prematurely from heart disease. Action is essential, both if you’ve already been diagnosed and also as a preventative measure. Do ask your doctor for a test if any of the risk factors apply to you and also if you have any of the symptoms described above. This is definitely not a disease you want to get, and so many of us can fend it off by keeping our bodies healthy.
Extracted from The Corporate Wellness Bible by Kate Cook (www.infideas.com). To discuss how your business can benefit from The Corporate Wellness Bible, including how you can order bespoke versions for your company, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call David Grant on 01865 514 888.