In 2011 nearly 73,000 adults in Northern Ireland are registered as having diabetes. Many cases of diabetes are preventable and are the result of obesity. With this in mind, on World Diabetes Day, 14 November 2011, the Public Health Agency (PHA) is encouraging everyone across Northern Ireland to be aware of how Type 2 diabetes can be prevented, the dangers it can cause to your health and what the signs and symptoms of diabetes are to ensure early diagnosis.
The links between type 2 diabetes and obesity are firmly established. Without the intervention of a healthy diet and appropriate exercise, obesity may develop into diabetes over a relatively short period of time. According to the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), worldwide 80 per cent of people with Type 2 diabetes are overweight or obese at the time of diagnosis.
If you are overweight, or obese the key step to preventing or delaying the onset of Type 2 diabetes is to lose a small amount of weight by making healthy food choices and being physically active 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week.
Diabetes, if left untreated can cause serious long term health complications such as heart disease, kidney damage, eye problems, which can affect vision, and foot problems leading to amputation.
Dr Brid Farrell, Consultant in Public Health Medicine, PHA, said: “The increase of diabetes occurring in the population can be explained by rising levels of obesity, people living longer and improved detection and diagnosis of diabetes in primary care.
“Having a family history of Type 2 diabetes increases your chances of developing diabetes. Take the first step today toward lowering your risk for Type 2 diabetes and improving your health and the health of future generations.”
The symptoms of diabetes can include increased thirst, passing urine more, frequently (bedwetting in children), extreme tiredness, slow healing infections, blurred vision and significant or unexplained weight loss. Symptoms of diabetes can develop quickly over days or weeks, and sometimes with Type 2 diabetes, a person may have no symptoms. Early diagnosis is important. If you think you have diabetes speak to your GP or pharmacist.
Dr Farrell continued: “Diabetes is a lifelong condition, but complications can be prevented or delayed by controlling your blood sugar, and treating high blood pressure and high cholesterol. If you have diabetes, a healthy diet and regular exercise is very important.”
Health Minister Edwin Poots said:”Diabetes is a serious condition, which affects many thousands of people across Northern Ireland. While not all diabetes is preventable, we all have a responsibility to look after our own health.
“By making healthier lifestyle choices such as eating a healthy, well-balanced diet and taking regular exercise, we can reduce our risk of developing potentially life threatening conditions such as type 2 diabetes. I would urge everyone to take every possible step to improve their health and avoid developing preventable illnesses
Contact the PHA Press Office on 028 9031 1611
Notes to the editor
- Two new programmes have become available in recent months to enhance the support available to those with diabetes in Northern Ireland. The first is a ‘structured education programme called CHOICE, for children and young people with Type 1 diabetes. The second is specialist diabetes pre-pregnancy care clinics. Both programmes are being rolled out across the Northern Ireland, with funding provided by the European Union’s INTERREG IVA programme, secured by Co-operation and Working Together (CAWT), the cross border health services partnership.