Type 2 diabetes is a common long-term condition that causes a person’s blood sugar levels to skyrocket.
There are 3.9 million people currently living with diabetes in the UK and by 2025 it is estimated that five million people will suffer from the condition – 90% of whom will have Type 2 diabetes.
According to the NHS, diabetes is caused when the pancreas doesn’t produce enough insulin to maintain a normal blood glucose level, or the body is unable to use the insulin that is produced.
Factors that can increase your diabetes risk include: being over the age of 40, having a relative with the condition, being overweight or obese and being of a certain ethnicity (being of South Asian, Chinese, African-Caribbean or black African origin can increase your risk).
According to Diabetes UK, people with Type 2 diabetes are usually encouraged to adopt better lifestyle choices such as a healthier diet and more exercise. They are also required to take medication and/or insulin.
To coincide with World Health Day and raise awareness surrounding the condition, below is a handy tool from NHS Choices to estimate your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.
Although the tool may help you figure out your risk, it can’t tell you whether you have diabetes.
Dr Jesse Kumar, consultant endocrinologist at Sevenoaks Medical Centre, explains the process for being diagnosed.
“Diabetes can be diagnosed by a simple blood test called HbA1c or sometimes a fasting blood glucose level. Your GP will be able to do this,” she says.
“Rarely are further tests required but a specialist consultant may review if the diagnosis remains borderline (e.g. checking blood glucose readings after a sugary drink called Oral Glucose Tolerance Test) or if the type of diabetes remains unclear.
“Early recognition is of utmost importance in Type 2 diabetes as the symptoms can be very mild and sometimes missed.”
Dr Kumar adds that you can reduce your chances of developing Type 2 Diabetes in the first place by implementing a few simple lifestyle changes.
“Type 2 diabetes is a condition which closely follows lifestyle measures like poor diet, physical inactivity and consequent weight gain,” she says.
“Avoiding calorie rich foods on a regular basis (ready meals and fast foods), taking healthy exercise (at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity per week) and avoiding stress helps to prevent diabetes onset.”
The good news is that Type 2 diabetes could potentially be reversed long-term, according to a recent study.
A group of 30 volunteers with Type 2 diabetes were asked to follow a very low calorie diet, consisting of between 600-700 calories per day. At the end of the trial, 12 patients – all of whom had suffered diabetes for less than 10 years – had reversed their condition.
Lead author of the study, Professor Taylor, from Newcastle University, said: “What we have shown is that it is possible to reverse your diabetes, even if you have had the condition for a long time, up to around 10 years.”