Saturday 24 October 2020

Know Your Risk for Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body is unable to produce enough insulin or the insulin produced is resistant. The long-term health problems that can arise from diabetes include loss of vision, kidney failure, lower limb amputation, and a greater risk of developing heart disease or having a stroke. It goes without saying that it is extremely important to get clued up on how to prevent it or reduce the risk of developing complications.

I was very young when I lost a family member to complications from Type 2 diabetes. It left a deep impression on me, but still I assumed that it was something you only had to worry about later in life. I figured that as long as you didn't overdo it on sweets and sugary drinks, you were mostly in the clear. 

While it is true that you are at greater risk of developing the condition as you get older, it has been found that black people are two to four times more likely to develop it even at a younger age. Other risk factors include your family history, your weight and your blood pressure. Of course, some of these risk factors (such as age and ethnicity) cannot be changed, but other factors are most certainly within our control. Taking active steps to maintain a healthy weight, exercise regularly and eating healthy foods can all assist in reducing risk.

When I went vegan in 2013, my interest in health (particularly nutrition) grew exponentially and I began to see the clear links between lifestyle and well-being. In fact, one of the factors that kept me committed to the lifestyle was knowing that it could help me improve my eating habits and therefore help reduce my chances of developing certain health conditions. A healthy plant-based diet is naturally low in saturated fats and higher in antioxidant-rich fruits, vegetable and fibres. A healthy diet is one piece of the puzzle in diabetes prevention, but by no means the only one. If you do find that you are at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes then you may be eligible to join your free local Healthier You NHS Diabetes Prevention Program.

So at this point you may be wondering where to even begin in finding out your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. Thankfully, the NHS has developed a simple and accessible online tool to assess your risk. In a few simple steps, you'll be able to determine whether you are at a low, medium or high risk. All you need is a measuring tape and a few health stats such as your weight and height. To get started, click here to access the online Diabetes UK tool.

diabetes know your risk

You'll see from the screenshot below that the tool is user-friendly and easy to navigate. Once you've input all your information, you'll be shown your results instantly, along with a detailed explanation of your risk category. On the same page, there's an opportunity to explore further and access healthy tips, recipes and diabetes resources.

Once you've figured out your risk, you can also spread the word by email or on social media by sharing across your platforms and encouraging your friends and family to find out their own risk. Have loved ones who are not active on social media? Be sure to pass on this vital message to them by word-of-mouth. Knowing our risk can make all the difference in preventing or delaying Type 2 diabetes.

This campaign is also supported by the Medical Association of Nigerians Across Great Britain, Nigerian Nurses Charity Association UK, Somali Nursing & Midwifery Group, Ghana Nurses Association and the British Islamic Medical Association.

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