Groups working to halt the effects of diabetes

PUBLISHED: 10:49 10 October 2016 | UPDATED: 10:49 10 October 2016

Cycling and walking are good choices: set your own pace

Cycling and walking are good choices: set your own pace

(c) Jupiterimages

It is estimated that by 2025 five million people will have diabetes in the UK – but our counties’ health groups, councils and charities are working to halt the effects

At least 3.2m people in the UK have been diagnosed with diabetes and it’s probable that another 630,000 are unaware they have a disease often called a hidden killer, because even though you may not be aware that you have it, it makes you five times more likely to get heart disease and three times more likely to have a stroke.

“In Buckinghamshire we’re lucky to generally enjoy better health than the national average,” says Martin Phillips, Bucks County Council’s Cabinet Member for Community Engagement & Public Health. “Even though this is also true of diabetes, a big problem is that it’s becoming more widespread at an alarming rate, with an estimated rise in people in Bucks with the condition of over 9% in two years.”

The most common form of diabetes, Type 2, tends to start in middle age and is often linked to physical inactivity and being overweight. Martin says: “One of the important ways of spotting the signs of diabetes is through the free NHS Health Checks. Via this scheme, everyone between the ages of 40 and 74 who is not already being treated for a long-term condition will be invited by their GP to come for a simple set of tests that take about 20 minutes.

“It’s a quick and easy way to find out your actual state of health rather than just hoping for the best, and with the support of your GP practice you can take action, if needed, to change aspects of your lifestyle and so reduce your risk of getting a number of debilitating conditions, including heart disease and stroke as well as diabetes.”

Together with keeping an eye on your weight, staying active is one of the best ways to reduce your risk of getting diabetes. A new initiative taking place right across Buckinghamshire can be a really great help in this regard – Active Bucks.

Because we don’t all have the motivation to start a fitness regime on our own, Active Bucks focuses on getting people together for informal and enjoyable group activities. Another offer available in Bucks via GPs is free 12-week taster courses with Weight Watchers or Slimming World.

In West Berkshire this month sees the launch of a 12 week pilot of the highly acclaimed Very Low Calorie Diet (VLCD) which has had excellent results since starting in Newcastle. The goal is to reverse Type 2 diabetes in people who’ve had the condition for less than four years. It’s considered an arduous programme with the potential for life-changing results. If West Berkshire goes well it could be rolled out across the county.

Patients under Berkshire Healthcare can also be referred by GPs for Diabetic Eye Screening, operating from Wokingham, to clinics held across the county which aim to reduce the risk of sight loss by regular screening to detect potential problems at an early stage.

The East Berkshire support group of charity Diabetes UK recently spent a day in Maidenhead High Street with Maidenhead Bridge Rotary Club and Silver Star, testing willing passersby for diabetes. Srini Parthasarathy of East Berks Diabetes hopes the awareness days can be rolled out in Windsor and Slough as well.

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