by Dr. Iain Corness
Will you develop diabetes?
My hospital just opened up a new
Diabetes Center with three endocrinologists on board. These are specialist
physicians who deal with medical conditions produced by malfunction of the
ductless glands in the body, which secret directly into the blood stream.
This includes the pancreas, that funny organ stuck onto your liver.
I wrote about diabetes about a year ago, but it is a perennial problem,
partly caused by lifestyle and diet.
Take the risk of developing diabetes, a nasty condition that affects just so
many organs and makes you more likely to develop everything from cataracts
to cardiac arrest. Diabetes UK warns that excessive food and drink
consumption over the up-coming festive period will increase your risk of
developing Type 2 diabetes.
Over-indulgence in too many calorific treats such as mince pies (around 200
calories each), Christmas cake (approximately 250 calories per slice) and
mulled wine (about 250 calories in a glass) can leave us all struggling to
buckle our belts in the New Year. Having a large waist has been shown to
mean that you are up to eleven times more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes
and being overweight or obese is one of the strongest risk factors for
developing Type 2 diabetes. And it’s too late to start sucking in your
stomach as you read this article!
‘At risk’ waist measurements are 80 cm or more for women, 94 cm or more for
men and 90 cm or more for South Asian males. As well as having a large
waist, people are more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes if they are
overweight, over the age of 40, of South Asian origin, or have a family
history of Type 2 diabetes. If you have two or more of these risk factors
you really should have a fasting blood sugar test.
Research found most people perceive themselves to be slimmer than they
really are. When 500 people were asked to estimate their waist size, most
under-estimated by an average of 6.7 cm. Men were the most deluded and
underestimated their waist size by a significant 7.9 cm, whilst the
estimates of South Asian women were generally the most accurate. “Do I look
fat in this g-string?”
Diabetes can lead to heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, blindness and
limb amputation. There are 2.5 million people diagnosed with diabetes in the
UK but shockingly more than half a million people have this Type 2 diabetes
but do not know it.
To reduce your risk of Type 2 diabetes, Diabetes UK, which keeps some very
comprehensive statistics, recommends you should eat a healthy balanced diet,
maintain a healthy weight and be physically active. Even a moderate degree
of physical activity can reduce your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes by
up to 64 percent. Similarly, if you reduce your weight by between 5-10
percent you reduce your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes by 58 percent.
Diabetes UK Chief Executive Douglas Smallwood said, “The Type 2 diabetes
epidemic is one of the biggest health challenges facing the UK today.
Watching our waistlines at this time of year is vital as we all need to do
our best to reduce our chances of developing this often preventable
condition. It is important to remember that around 80 percent of people with
Type 2 diabetes are overweight at diagnosis.
“There are around half a million people in the UK unaware they have Type 2
diabetes. The condition can be undiagnosed for up to 12 years and 50 percent
of people who have it show signs of complications at diagnosis. The sooner
Type 2 diabetes is diagnosed and becomes well managed, the better your
long-term health is protected and the lower your risk of developing
Now while that is a quotation from the UK Diabetes group, the
recommendations are just the same for all of us, even though we are a
numerically smaller group, and the overall percentage of overweight people
However, that percentage always increases after the Xmas-New Year blowout,
so my first message for 2014 is to step on the scales, put the tape measure
around the waist, and do something about it - before it is too late!