There are two main types of diabetes – Type 1 diabetes and Type 2 diabetes.  Type 2 diabetes is far more common than Type 1. In the UK, around 90% of all adults with diabetes have Type 2.  Every two minutes someone finds out that they have Type 2 diabetes.  There are 3.9 million people diagnosed with diabetes in the UK.  This figures has more than doubled in the last 20 years. If current trends persist, 1 in 10 people will develop Type 2 diabetes by 2035.  

Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body either doesn’t produce enough insulin or the insulin it does produce doesn’t work properly (insulin resistance). It can be a combination of both. Diabetes can cause serious long-term health problems. It’s a leading cause of vision loss in people of working age. It’s also responsible for most cases of kidney failure and lower limb amputation (other than accidents). People with diabetes are at least twice as likely to develop heart disease or have a stroke than those without diabetes.  It’s therefore essential to be diagnosed as early as possible because Type 2 diabetes is likely to get worse if left untreated.  Early diagnosis and treatment may also reduce the risk of developing complications later on.

There are several risk factors for Type 2 diabetes, some of which can’t be changed.  The risk of Type 2 diabetes can be reduced by getting support to lose weight (where appropriate), getting more physically active and eating healthy food.  Furthermore, the risk of COVID-19 related in-hospital death is doubled by Type 2 diabetes. Diabetes is found in nearly one third of people who die with COVID-19.

It’s very important that you find out if you are at high risk of Type 2 diabetes so you can get support to lower your risk.  You may also be eligible to sign up for your free local Healthier You NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme. 

Type 2 diabetes risk factors:

Your age. The older you are, the greater your risk is likely to be. However, those  from the ethnic groups outlined below tend to be at risk at a younger age.

Your family history. You’re two to six times more likely to get Type 2 diabetes if you have a parent, brother, sister or child with Type 2 diabetes.

Your ethnicity. You’re more likely to get Type 2 diabetes if you’re over 25 and from a Chinese, South Asian, Black Caribbean or Black African ethnic background.

Your weight. You are more at risk of Type 2 diabetes if you carry excess weight or have obesity.

Your blood pressure. You’re more at risk if you’ve ever had high blood pressure.

You’re also more at risk if:

• You’ve ever had a heart attack or stroke.

• You’ve ever had schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or depression, or if you are receiving treatment with anti-psychotic medication.

• You’re a woman who’s had polycystic ovarian syndrome, gestational diabetes, or a baby weighing over 10 pounds.

You can’t change some of these risk factors. But others you can. The risk of Type 2 diabetes can be reduced by getting support to lose weight, getting more physically active and eating healthy food.   Making changes now can lower your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.

Your free local Healthier You service can support you in taking action in all these areas.  This programme can support you to improve your diet, get more physically active and lose weight (where appropriate) to reduce your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. The first thing you need to do is to find out if you are at risk of developing the condition. You can do this by using the Diabetes UK risk tool. 

You’ll be asked a series of questions to identify if you are at a low, moderate or high risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. Make sure to have a tape measure handy as you’ll need to measure  your waist.  If you’re at moderate or high risk, you’ll be invited to sign up to your free local Healthier You service.  https://riskscore.diabetes.org.uk/start


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