Modern Medicine: Will you develop Diabetes this year?


Amazingly, you survived Xmas and New Year. Well done, despite the excess parties, pies and pints. The waistline has swelled, anti-flatulents have been purchased, following which, New Year’s resolutions have been made regarding weight loss. But are there good reasons for the resolutions? Unfortunately the answer is a very resounding ‘yes’! Just take the word “Diabetes” on board.

Diabetes is a nasty condition that affects just so many organs and makes you more likely to develop everything from cataracts to a cardiac arrest. Diabetes UK warns that excessive food and drink consumption over the festive period will increase your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.

Over-indulgence in too many calorific treats such as mince pies (around 200 calories each), Christmas cake (approximately 250 calories per slice) and mulled wine (about 250 calories in a glass) can leave us all struggling to buckle our belts in the New Year. Having a large waist has been shown to mean that you are up to eleven times more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes and being overweight or obese is one of the strongest risk factors for developing Type 2 diabetes. And it’s too late to start sucking in your stomach as you read this article!

‘At risk’ waist measurements are 80 cm or more for women, 94 cm or more for men and 90 cm or more for South Asian males. As well as having a large waist, people are more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes if they are overweight, over the age of 40, of South Asian origin, or have a family history of Type 2 diabetes. If you have two or more of these risk factors you really should have a fasting blood sugar test.

Research found most people perceive themselves to be slimmer than they really are. When 500 people were asked to estimate their waist size, most under-estimated by an average of 6.7 cm. Men were the most deluded and underestimated their waist size by a significant 7.9 cm, whilst the estimates of South Asian women were generally the most accurate. “Do I look fat in this g-string?”

Diabetes can lead to heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, blindness and limb amputation. There are 2.5 million people diagnosed with diabetes in the UK but shockingly more than half a million people have this Type 2 diabetes but do not know it. A potentially fatal condition and the people do not know!

To reduce your risk of Type 2 diabetes, Diabetes UK, which keeps some very comprehensive statistics, recommends you should eat a healthy balanced diet, maintain a healthy weight and be physically active. Even a moderate degree of physical activity can reduce your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes by up to 64 percent. Similarly, if you reduce your weight by between 5-10 percent you reduce your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes by 58 percent.

Diabetes UK Chief Executive Douglas Smallwood said, “The Type 2 diabetes epidemic is one of the biggest health challenges facing the UK today. Watching our waistlines at this time of year is vital as we all need to do our best to reduce our chances of developing this often preventable condition. It is important to remember that around 80 percent of people with Type 2 diabetes are overweight at diagnosis.” Coincidence? I don’t think so.

“There are around half a million people in the UK unaware they have Type 2 diabetes. The condition can be undiagnosed for up to 12 years and 50 percent of people who have it show signs of complications at diagnosis. The sooner Type 2 diabetes is diagnosed and becomes well managed, the better your long-term health is protected and the lower your risk of developing devastating complications.”

Now while that is a quotation from the UK Diabetes group, the recommendations are just the same for all of us, even though we are a numerically smaller group, and the overall percentage of overweight people is less.

However, that percentage always increases after the Xmas-New Year blowout, so my first message for 2018 is to step on the scales, put the tape measure around the waist, and do something about it – before it is too late!