Diabetes is causing 500 early deaths every week – but most of us are still clueless over symptoms.
The disease affects five million adults and hospitals are getting swamped with patients.
Despite timely diagnosis being crucial, research has found nine in ten Brits do not know the early signs of type 2 diabetes.
The Bluecrest Health Screening study revealed only one in three adults makes a conscious decision about their lifestyle to reduce their risk.
Dr Josh Cullimore, GP advisor at Bluecrest, said: “It’s evident from the study that awareness and understanding around the largely preventable type 2 diabetes is worryingly low.
“Many people have type 2 diabetes without realising. This lack of understanding may contribute to the 500 people who die prematurely in the UK every week due to the disease.”
To mark World Diabetes Day on Thursday, Dr Cullimore talks through the symptoms, when to get checked and the changes we can all make.
“Early warning signs include fatigue, weight loss, wounds that aren’t healing, being constantly thirsty and needing to urinate more often,” says Dr Cullimore. “Oral thrush and shingles can also be a sign.
“With diabetes type 2, there often aren’t any symptoms for quite a long time. It causes all sorts of health problems – heart attack, stroke, blindness, kidney failure. It can really reduce life expectancy so early detection is important.
“See your GP if you have any of the symptoms above. Anyone over the age of 40 can get tested every five years.
“Making lifestyle changes can dramatically reduce the chances of developing diabetes type 2.”
“Most people think about sugary, sweet foods in relation to diabetes but one of the best things you can do is cut down on red meat.
“I recommend a diet rich in fruit and vegetables, whole grains, nuts and pulses.
“Try to limit processed food and meat – perhaps try to have one meat-free day a week or one meat-free meal a day.”
“The recommended amount is 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week. Build up gradually, starting with fast walking.
Household chores such as gardening are also good exercise – anything that gets you out of breath. If you can find an active hobby you like doing, great.
“If you love it, you’re more likely to keep doing it.
“Exercise helps reduce insulin resistance, lowers cholesterol and causes weight loss. Excess weight around the middle is one of the worst things for developing type 2 diabetes.”
Lay off the booze
“This helps because it lowers blood pressure and cholesterol and helps people maintain a healthy weight – all risk factors in developing diabetes.
“The maximum recommended alcohol intake is 14 units a week for both men and women.
“If you want to reduce alcohol intake, look at why you might be drinking too much.
“If you’re buying rounds, you could try getting a soft drink when it’s your round.
“Or look for fun activities to take part in, away from the pub.”
“Smoking causes damage to the nerves and narrows blood vessels. If you are trying to quit, try to find a good motivation, such as your loved ones or being able to do more exercise.
“It might be an idea to get professional help – see a doctor or smoking adviser at your
“They can prescribe nicotine replacement therapy or medications that increase the chances of quitting fourfold.”
■ For more information about Bluecrest Health Screening, visit bluecrestscreening.com