The figures are grim. More than one in three adults has ‘pre-diabetes’ and has no idea they’re at risk, according to research just published in the British Medical Journal. As a result, Britain is facing a type 2 diabetes epidemic of unprecedented proportions reported the Daily Mail.
Type 2 diabetes, the kind that develops in adulthood and is linked to lifestyle, is not a condition to be dismissed lightly; it can reduce life expectancy and lead to complications such as blindness and amputation that seriously affect quality of life.
Pre-diabetes is a term used to indicate you have raised blood sugar levels and are therefore at greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes in future. “This study has taken us all by surprise — it’s been a bit of a health bombshell,” says Dr Stephen Lawrence, a GP and clinical adviser on diabetes to the Royal College of General Practitioners. The figures are ‘alarming’, says Simon O’Neill, director of policy at Diabetes UK. “It’s worse than we expected.”
It must be acknowledged that some specialists aren’t convinced that pre-diabetes exists.
It’s nonsense,” says Craig Currie, professor of applied pharmacoepidemiology, Institute of Primary Care and Public Health at Cardiff University. “Either you have type 2 diabetes or you don’t have type 2 diabetes. I think this is simply a scare tactic to make people take notice.”
However, the consensus is that raised blood sugar levels, whether they’re labelled pre-diabetes or not, are not healthy. “People who take in too many calories, in whatever form, put themselves at risk of pre-diabetes,” says Mr Twenefour. “If you are drinking lots of sweet fizzy drinks and fruit juice, and you cut that out, it is going to help, but not specifically because they are comprised of sugar.”
“The key thing is that you lose weight, whether you cut out sugar, protein or fat.’
You can also reverse pre-diabetes by eating a healthy, balanced diet, increasing your intake of fibre and doing more exercise,” he adds.
According to Professor Davies, even walking around a little more can make a big difference, “If people increase their daily step count by 2,000 steps, in two to three years they can halve their risk of developing diabetes.”
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