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Understanding Diabetes

If you’re prediabetic you might not experience any symptoms, but left unchecked, type 2 diabetes can cause potentially life-threatening complications.

Let’s help you get to grips with the basics and discover what diabetes is, its effects and risk factors, as well as how you can prevent it from developing.

What is diabetes?

There are two main types of diabetes: type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes.

Diabetes type 2 is far more common than type 1. In the UK, around 90% of all adults with diabetes have type 2. Diabetes type 2 occurs when the body either doesn’t produce enough insulin or the insulin it does produce doesn’t work properly (insulin resistance).

Diabetes type 2 can be a very serious health condition, affecting your body in various ways and causing long-term health problems.

Being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes can have a huge impact on you and your family and can mean lots of changes to the way you live your life. Also, having type 2 diabetes doubles your risk of COVID-19 related in-hospital death with diabetes found in nearly a third of people who die with COVID-19.

Every 2 minutes someone finds out that they have type 2 diabetes.
5 million people are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Who can get type 2 diabetes?

Anyone can develop type 2 diabetes but these 6 factors can increase your risk.

1. Your age

The older you are, the greater your risk is likely to be. However, some ethnic groups are at risk at a younger age than others.

2. Your family history

You’re 2 to 6 times more likely to get type 2 diabetes if you have a parent, brother, sister or child with type 2 diabetes.

3. 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.

4. Your weight

You’re more at risk of developing type 2 diabetes if you carry excess weight or have obesity.

5. Your blood pressure

You’re more at risk of developing type 2 diabetes if you’ve ever had high blood pressure.

6. Other factors

You’re more at risk if you’ve had a heart attack or stroke, had schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or depression, or are a woman who’s had polycystic ovarian syndrome, gestational diabetes, or a baby weighing over 10 pounds.

Can you prevent type 2 diabetes?

Yes! You can reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes by making some simple changes to your lifestyle. Our programme can help support you to make changes to your diet, get more physically active and lose weight (if appropriate).

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Thousands of people have changed their lives with the support of the Healthier You NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme.

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