Dealing with diabetes

More than five million people in the UK will be living with the condition within the next five years. What can you do to cut the chances of being one of them?

Diabetes is a life-long condition that causes a person’s blood sugar level to become too high. More people than ever have diabetes, with greater numbers than ever are at risk of type 2 diabetes. If nothing changes, it’s estimated that more than five million people in the UK will be sufferers by 2025.

There are 2 main types of diabetes:

Type 1 diabetes – where the body’s immune system attacks and destroys the cells that produce insulin.

Type 2 diabetes – where the body does not produce enough insulin, or the body’s cells do not react to insulin.

Type 2 diabetes is far more common than type 1. In the UK, around 90 per cent of all adults with diabetes have type 2.


The amount of sugar in the blood is controlled by a hormone called insulin which is produced by the pancreas, a gland behind the stomach. When food is digested and enters your bloodstream, insulin moves glucose out of the blood and into cells where it is broken down to produce energy. If you have diabetes, your body is unable to break down glucose into energy. This is because there’s either not enough insulin to move the glucose or the insulin produced does not work properly.

There are no lifestyle changes you can make to lower your risk of type 1 diabetes and the condition is mainly managed by medication. You can help manage type 2 diabetes through healthy eating, regular exercise and achieving a healthy body weight.


Type 1 diabetes can develop quickly over weeks or even days. Many people have type 2 diabetes for years without realising because the early symptoms tend to be general.

Visit your GP as soon as possible if you experience the main symptoms of diabetes, which include:

• Feeling very thirsty

• Peeing more frequently than usual, particularly at night

• Feeling very tired

• Weight loss and loss of muscle bulk

• Itching around the penis or vagina, or frequent episodes of thrush

• Cuts or wounds that heal slowly

• Blurred vision

Reducing the risk:

There’s little we can do to prevent type 1 diabetes but there is something that you can do to help prevent type 2. More than 12 million people in the UK are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes. And type 2 diabetes is serious. In around three in five cases, type 2 diabetes can be prevented or delayed by maintaining a healthy weight, eating well and being active.

You can reduce your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes by:

• Eating well

• Moving more

• Losing weight if you’re overweight

For advice and support about diabetes, ask your GP or visit