Next week (12th – 18th June) is Diabetes Week – an important, weeklong campaign run by Diabetes UK in a bid to raise awareness of diabetes and raise money for the work that takes place around it. As one of the most common conditions in the UK, it’s likely that you know someone who is living with diabetes. This is why it’s becoming increasingly important to break down the misconceptions about diabetes and learn what it’s really like to live with the condition.
‘Setting the record straight’
The theme for this year’s Diabetes Week is Setting the Record Straight. There are currently a number of misconceptions which exist around diabetes, and it is hoped through raising awareness of the reality of the condition, people will be able to get a clearer picture of what it’s like to live with it. Diabetes UK is calling on those with diabetes and their friends and families to share their stories, videos and anything else which can help people discover the truth. Other ways for people to get involved include:
- Diabetes UK have released some awareness posters which you can put up in your workplace, college, school or university as well as other areas around the local community.
- Why not share your experiences via a blog or video about living with diabetes?
- Follow the Diabetes UK social media accounts featuring graphics and videos featuring diabetes facts and use the hashtag #actually to talk about diabetes.
- Why not host a ‘patron lunch’? To coincide with the Queen’s 90th birthday on 12th June, the largest street party in London will be taking place on the Mall, and you can join in the fun by hosting your own event. You can find more information on the Patron’s lunch page.
The reality of diabetes in the UK
Diabetes is an increasing health concern in the UK, and it is estimated that 1 in 16 people in the UK has diabetes, whether they have been diagnosed or not. Out of the 4 million people living with the condition, 90% of them are suffering from Type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is largely linked to obesity, and therefore could be preventable through making better lifestyle choices and maintaining a healthy weight.
In children, Type 1 diabetes accounts for the majority of cases, and is typically diagnosed between ages 9-14. There are however increasing cases of children being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, especially girls aged 9 to 16 from Arabic, Indian or Pakistani origin.
Living with Type 2 diabetes
If you’ve been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, it needn’t be as life-changing as you’d think. Self-care is the most effective way of managing your condition and preventing complications. This involves staying fit and active, exercising regularly and maintaining a healthy diet. If you’re overweight or obese you should aim to reduce your BMI as well.
After receiving a diagnosis, you will have regular appointments with your GP to ensure that your diabetes is bring controlled. You will also expect to receive routine checks for things like your eyes and feet, which could be affected by the condition. Every year you will also need to have a HbA1c test which will measure the levels of glucose in your blood to monitor how your condition is progressing.
One of the misconceptions about diabetes is that you will have to cut out sugar entirely. However the reality is that you can still eat sugar and fat, but you should limit your consumption. Starchy carbohydrates and fruit and vegetables should also feature in your diet.
Other ways to practice self-care is to limit alcohol and give up smoking, as this increases your chance of having a heart attack or a stroke.
For more information about diabetes, Diabetes UK has plenty of specialist resources, whilst Diabetes.co.uk is a great online community for those suffering with the condition. If you suspect that you may have diabetes, make an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible. And don’t forget to share your experiences of diabetes with others to help raise awareness for Diabetes Week.