Most people would be surprised to know that in the UK around 22,000 people with diabetes die early every year. Type 2 diabetes is a leading cause of preventable sight loss in people of working age and is a major contributor to kidney failure, heart attack, and stroke.
In Leeds 32,391 have been identified as being at risk of developing diabetes and 42,746 people have been diagnosed with diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is largely preventable through lifestyle changes.
The Healthier You: NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme (NDPP) identifies those at high risk of diabetes and refers them onto a behaviour change programme.
It’s a shock when you first find out you are at risk of diabetes, but there is a lot of information and support to help you to make some lifestyle changes so that you can reduce your risk. And even at Christmas there is still a lot you can do and still enjoy yourself.
Let’s find out more from someone from Leeds who decided to do something about it.
Valerie Bailey, 56, from Potternewton, first found out that she had a higher probability of being at risk of Type 2 diabetes when, aged 31, she was expecting her first child. During a more recent health check, the risk was highlighted once again and, this time, Valerie decided she was going to do something about it.
“I willingly signed up for the programme because I knew that not doing anything meant a high chance my health would suffer and have a significant impact on my life,” said Valerie.
Her Caribbean parents and grandmother all had diabetes and she saw at first-hand how their lives were affected by the disease. “Although I had previously put off the decision to take action, the advice of my doctor kept ringing in my ears this time and I knew the time was right to do something about it now.”
Valerie enrolled on the 10-month Healthier You: NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme, which helps participants understand the issues, how to identify high-risk foods, how being more physically active can be really beneficial, and how simple, achievable actions can make all the difference. Participants are also invited to have the sugar levels in their blood measured during the course of the programme to ensure what they are doing is having a positive, measurable result.
“I’ve not found it challenging at all to stick to my individual plan,” added Valerie. “I am one of 12 people on my particular programme, and all of us have been surprised at how easy it is to follow the advice we have been given. Mine is to be more active, know what to look for on food labels and be more careful in what I eat. Being at risk of Type 2 diabetes is not all about being overweight – that’s not me. However, there are positive and achievable things I can do to bring down my risk, and that’s what I am determined to do.”
Valerie’s course is being led by Tasha Youngman, who’s a Healthier You educator from Ingeus, which delivers the contract in Leeds on behalf of the NHS. “The first question we ask our participants is whether they want to change their lifestyle to remain healthy. Almost everybody does, and so we show them that there are ways of doing just that. Over the course of ten months, those at risk of developing diabetes can take real, positive steps to make changes, and as a result live longer healthier lives. That’s our objective, and Valerie is a great illustration of how the course is making a difference.”
If you have been told you are at high risk of diabetes or would like more information about the Healthier You: NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme please ask your GP or visit www.ingeushealthieryou.co.uk