Last week, I watched an episode of the SBS program Insight which discussed the Type 2 diabetes epidemic in Australia.

My family has the trifecta in our genes – Heart disease, cancer … and diabetes! My father and paternal grandmother were both Type 1 insulin-dependent diabetics. About 10 years ago, my brother was told he was pre-diabetic and at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. This scared him enough to lose some weight and start looking after himself a little better.

What is Type 2 diabetes?

According to Diabetes Australia, Type 2 diabetes is defined as, “a progressive condition in which the body becomes resistant to the normal effects of insulin and/or gradually loses the capacity to produce enough insulin in the pancreas. We do not know what causes type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is associated with modifiable lifestyle risk factors. Type 2 diabetes also has strong genetic and family related risk factors. Type 2 diabetes is diagnosed when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin (reduced insulin production) and/or the insulin does not work effectively and/or the cells of the body do not respond to insulin effectively (known as insulin resistance). Type 2 diabetes represents 85–90% of all cases of diabetes!

Diabetes can be life-threatening, it is a major cause of blindness, doubles your risk of developing heart disease, increases your risk of dementia and can take at least 10 years off your life expectancy.

So, I watched the Insight show with great interest. Here’s some of the statistics they highlighted:

  • Every 9 minutes, an Australian is diagnosed with diabetes
  • There are 2.2 million Australians currently at risk of developing diabetes

… that’s pretty sobering, don’t you think?!

Are you at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes?

As stated above, part of the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes is influenced by modifiable lifestyle risk factors.  Whie there are some risk factors which are outside our control, there are other things we can choose to change. Those at risk of developing diabetes include people who:

  • Have a family history of diabetes
  • Are aged over 45 years and overweight
  • Are aged over 45 years and have high blood pressure
  • Area aged over 35 years and are from an Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander, Pacific Island, Indian or Chinese cultural background
  • Are older than 55 years, as the risk increases with age
  • Are a woman who has given birth to a child over 4.5 kilos (9lbs), had gestational diabetes while pregnant, or had a condition known as Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome

Insight host Jenny Brockie interviewed several diabetes sufferers, as well as experts in the field, who advocated the need to lose weight in order to lower the risk of developing the disease.  The experts recommend a diet of just 800 calories per day for 8 weeks, which is pretty restrictive, however some dieters have lost up to 10% of their body weight.

What can be done to prevent Type 2 diabetes?

Preventing the onset of Type 2 diabetes is certainly preferable to treating it (or suffering the complications it can cause). The Diabetes Australia website states people at risk of Type 2 diabetes can delay and prevent the condition by:

  • Losing and maintaining a healthy weight
  • Undertaking regular physical activity
  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet and making healthy food choices
  • Monitoring and managing blood pressure
  • Monitoring and managing cholesterol levels
  • Not smoking

Other recommendations include restricting take away and processed foods, limiting alcohol intake and seeing your doctor for regular health check-ups.

What’s your risk factor?

Don’t stick your head in the sand! If you think you may be at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, you can assess your risk by taking the assessment on the Diabetes Australia website – https://www.diabetesaustralia.com.au/risk-calculator

I took this test some time ago, when my waist measurement was just over the recommended maximum of 88cms. Due to my age and family history, together with my higher waist measurement, I was considered at moderate risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, with a 1 in 30 risk.

In recent months, thanks to Weight Watchers, I’ve focused more on losing weight, and although I’m still not at my goal weight, I have reduced my waist measurement down below that magical 88cm. I took the assessment again, and just by reducing my waist measurement, I’m now only a low risk of developing diabetes, with a 1 in 50 to 1 in 100 chance of getting it. My focus is now on keeping my weight and waist measurement down so I can decrease my risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.

If you want to keep lovin’ life, perhaps you need to take the assessment too… I apologise this post isn’t my usual Thursday inspiration, however, I thought it was an important message to share with my wonderful readers. If it helps one person, it’s been worth writing! 🙂

Note: This is not a sponsored post and should not be taken as medical advice. The content is intended to merely inform readers. You should consult a medical professional if you are concerned about your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.

Click here to watch the Insight episode.

Are you at risk of contracting Type 2 diabetes? If so, what are you prepared to do to lower your risk?

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