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Diabetes: Know your risk

Last Updated: 18 January 2019

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Diabetes: Know your risk

April 7th sees World Health Day - and this year the focus is on diabetes. Wait! Before your stop reading thinking  ‘that’s something only old or overweight people get’, stay with us.  The age of diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes (the most common type) has been getting younger in recent years, and although being overweight increases risk, it’s also seen in people with a healthy weight.

Type 1 vs Type 2 Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes is typically diagnosed in childhood although this is not always the case. In this type of diabetes, the body stops producing the hormone insulin, meaning that blood sugar levels cannot be controlled properly.

 

Type 2 diabetes however is far more common and accounts for 90 to 95% of all diabetes cases in the world. In this condition, the body either stops producing enough insulin, or becomes resistant to the insulin that is produced. Type 2 diabetes is often called a ‘lifestyle disease’ as lifestyle factors such as having an unhealthy diet, being inactive, drinking too much alcohol and being overweight can all increase risk. Yet other non-controllable risk factors such as genetics, race and ethnicity can also play a role.

 

Check out your risk today - how many of the following risk factors apply to you?

 

1.    Your waist circumference is greater than 31.5 inches (women) or 37 inches (men)

2.    You are not regularly physically active or you sit for long periods of time each day

3.    You regularly drink over the recommended units of alcohol (14 units)

4.    You have a diet low in fruit and veg, low in whole grains (like oats, brown rice, wholegrain bread or pasta, quinoa, buckwheat), high in sugar, high in salt and high in saturated fats.

5.    You have a family history of diabetes (parent or sibling)

6.    You’re black, Hispanic, American Indian or Asian

7.    You have high blood pressure

8.    You had gestational diabetes (diabetes during pregnancy)

9.    You have polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)

 

The good news is that many of these risk factors can be controlled - mainly through diet and exercise. Eating a well balanced diet high in fruit and vegetables, wholegrain and lean protein like beans, low-fat dairy and lean meat, fish and eggs and controlling your intake of sugar, salt, red and processed meats and high fat foods is a great place to start.

When it comes to exercise, the most important thing is to keep active throughout the day - you don’t need to be running marathons or going to the gym each day!

 

If you’re unsure of your risk or are concerned that you answered yes to many of the risk factors above, visit your doctor or health professional as soon as possible. 

 

 

Written by Ruth Tongue
(MSc Nutrition)

Categories:
Disease
General health
Nutrition
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