Almost 100,000 people are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes in Kent and Medway. But for many, there are steps you can take to reduce your risk.
Type 2 diabetes is a common condition that causes the level of sugar (glucose) in the blood to become too high.
People living with diabetes face a higher risk of heart disease, stroke, nerve damage, foot problems, vision loss, kidney problems, and dying from Covid-19.
You can prevent type 2 diabetes by eating a healthy, balanced diet, maintaining a healthy weight, and keeping physically active.
This year, Type 2 Diabetes Prevention Week takes place from Monday, 23 to Sunday, 29 May.
We have joined Diabetes UK and NHS England to raise awareness of the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and how to reduce it.
‘Don’t ignore your risk’
A woman who has overcome type 2 diabetes is urging others who are at risk of the illness to act.
Shirley Spurgeon, from Southborough in Tunbridge Wells, joined the Healthier You NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme run by Xyla Health & Wellbeing in April 2021 after being told that she was prediabetic.
As an avid tennis player with a healthy body mass index (BMI), the 77-year-old was shocked to learn she could develop type 2 diabetes if she failed to make lifestyle changes.
“I have never worried about weight, but the inches had gone on around my waist without realising it," she said.
“I was so surprised when I was told I was prediabetic. I tried to make some changes alone but soon realised I needed help and advice.”
Shirley, who has two children and six grandchildren, received support to help control her carbohydrate intake, make healthy food swaps, and manage stress levels.
‘No longer prediabetic’
“I’m so impressed with the course; I lost four inches around my waist, I’ve got plenty of energy and I’m still playing tennis.
“My blood sugar has dropped, and I am no longer prediabetic. I am now just focusing on maintaining it.
“If you are prediabetic, don’t ignore it as it is one of the few things you can turn around.”
Symptoms of type 2 diabetes are:
- going to the toilet more often, especially at night
- feeling more tired
- losing weight without trying
- genital itching or thrush
- cuts and wounds taking longer to heal
- blurred vision
- feeling extremely thirsty.
Dr Rebecca Prince, GP Clinical Lead for Diabetes for Kent and Medway, said:
“Type 2 diabetes is extremely treatable, but it does carry risks to your heart, kidneys, feet and eyes.
“If you think you may be at risk of diabetes, it's important to speak to your GP practice about having a blood test to see if you have what we call prediabetes or even diabetes itself.
“If you have prediabetes, there is a lot we can do to reduce your risk of developing diabetes. There are evidence-based programmes we can refer you to, and we can put you in touch with other organisations that can help make lifestyle changes to reduce your risk.”