MEN over 40 are being encouraged by the NHS to take a quiz to see if they are at risk of type 2 diabetes.
Around 12.3 million people in the UK are teeting on the brink of a type 2 diabetes diagnosis, according to charity statistics.
The serious condition, driven by soaring obesity levels, raises the odds of Covid death, heart attacks and strokes among other complications.
While age and genetics play a role, two in five type 2 diabetes cases can be prevented with a healthy lifestyle.
Because there are very little clear signs that someone is on the cusp of a type 2 diabetes diagnosis, and it can develop slowly over time with very few signs, the NHS is urging white men aged over 40 to find out their risk.
It will use Facebook adverts to tell them their age already puts them at higher odds of diabetes.
Then it will offer them the option to go through to a quiz on Diabetes UK.
The rapid quiz asks about age, weight, if someone in the family has diabetes and if you have been told you have high blood pressure, for example.
It will then give a score between zero and 47 points.
The higher the risk level, the more likely it is that person will develop type 2 diabetes in the next 10 years. For example, one out of four people with high risk will get type 2 diabetes in the next 10 years.
If someone’s score is moderate or high they can refer themselves to a local service for support remotely or online, without having to go through a healthcare professional.
It doesn't necessarily mean someone has prediabetes – when blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be considered type 2 diabetes.
Professor Jonathan Valabhji, national clinical director for diabetes and obesity for the NHS in England, said: “The evidence is clear – obesity and type 2 diabetes significantly increase the risk that many of us face from COVID.
“And we already knew that for men over 40 in particular, the risk of type 2 diabetes steadily increases with age so it is crucial people in this group check their risk and get the right support.
“As we start to see signs of normal life returning, there has never been a better time to start living a healthier lifestyle and we want to support even more people to do this. If you think you are at risk, check your risk online – it is free and it could be life changing.”
Research shows that men over 40 are particularly at risk of getting type 2 diabetes and this risk increases with age.
However, research shows Black and South Asian people have a higher risk of getting type 2 diabetes after the age of 25.
Black and South Asian communities were targeted through adverts in a successful campaign last summer.
Anyone identified as at moderate to high risk of type 2 diabetes, can sign up to the Healthier You Diabetes Prevention Programme online themselves without needing to visit their GP.
How many risk factors of type 2 diabetes do YOU have? What are the symptoms?
You are more at risk of type 2 diabetes if you:
- are over 40 and white
- are over 25 and are African-Caribbean, Black African, or South Asian
- have a parent, brother, sister or child with diabetes
- have ever had high blood pressure
- are carrying extra weight
- are a smoker
- have schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or depression
- spend lots of time sitting
- drink too much alcohol
- have disturbed sleep patters
You may already have type 2 diabetes if you have the following symptoms, and should see your GP:
- peeing more than usual, particularly at night
- feeling thirsty all the time
- feeling very tired
- losing weight without trying to
- itching around your penis or vagina, or repeatedly getting thrush
- cuts or wounds taking longer to heal
- blurred vision
The world leading programme has already helped hundreds of thousands of people make healthy lifestyle changes.
More than 750,000 people have been referred and those completing the programme who were overweight or obese lost on average 3.6kg.
And there are now 200,000 places up for grabs every year.
John Harrison, 53, from Burton Joyce, Nottinghamshire, lost 55kg (more than eight stone) through the programme.
John said: “I was determined that lockdown wouldn’t stop me from getting healthier. I got great support through video sessions and was able to drop from 127kg in 2019 to 72kg in just 14 months.
“The virtual get-togethers were really useful – the online contact enabled me to ask questions and keep my momentum going.
"My health coach was also so knowledgeable and gave me an awful lot to think about but deciding on which changes to introduce is down to the individual.
"After all, you are the best person to make those decisions about your own lifestyle.
“Now I am 72kg, my quality of life has really improved and these days I can do so much more without feeling exhausted. I can buy and wear fashionable clothes including skinny jeans.”
John cut down on his fat and red meat intake, while increasing chicken and pulses in his diet.
He also started a new exercise regime and now regularly does a fast power walk five times a week.
Public health minister Jo Churchill said: “We want to be a healthier nation and obesity is one of our biggest health challenges – Covid-19 has shown us it is vital we act now.
“This initiative between the NHS and Diabetes UK is designed to support people, particularly 40-year-old men, on how to avoid type 2 diabetes. Now is a great time to check your risk and do something about it.
“The government has recently announced £100 million to support people achieve and maintain a healthier weight, and this is another initiative to help. By working together we can achieve our healthy weight strategy goals and halve the number of children living with obesity by 2030, protecting people and the NHS for a brighter future.”
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