For avid line dancer Agnes Turner, the news that she was at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes wasn’t entirely unexpected. Type 2 diabetes is two to four times more likely in people of South Asian descent and African-Caribbean or Black African descent and, with her family history of the condition, ethnicity and weight and all contributory factors to heightening her chance of developing Type 2 diabetes, Agnes was determined to side-step the threat of this lifechanging condition. Ten months on and her local Healthier You: NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme in Southampton has helped her to do just that.
After a routine blood test at her GP identified that Agnes had increased blood sugar and cholesterol levels, she was referred to her local Healthier You group, held at the Ascention Church in Bitterne Park.
Agnes and her nine fellow group members have just completed the 10-month programme where they have learnt about the risks and preventive measures available to avoid Type 2 diabetes, all successfully losing weight and lowering their HbA1c blood sugar readings. The group lost a combined total of almost 40kg in weight, with Agnes herself losing 4.2kg.
“I enjoyed everything about attending the group and befriending other people in the same situation as me was a real bonus,” said Agnes, who is 70 years old and lives in Fair Oak. “We all got on so well and supported each other, we’ll definitely be meeting up again now the course has finished to check how we’re all progressing.
“The Healthier You programme has helped me to look differently at the food I’m buying by checking labels and understanding what I’m eating. We weren’t preached at to stop everything we enjoy, but just to be more mindful about the importance of diet and exercise. I love attending my local line dancing group and try to walk to work to keep my step count high each day. I’ve lost weight, reduced my cholesterol and blood sugar readings to safe levels and made a new group of friends. It really was a group effort! Most importantly, I’m positively preventing Type 2 diabetes and setting a good example to my grandson who lives with me.”
The Healthier You: NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme supports participants to take charge of their health, offering information and practical, simple interventions to positively change eating and exercise behaviours.
Health Educator, Molly Owens ran Agnes’ group. She said: “While you can’t change some Type 2 risk factors, others you definitely can. The Bitterne Park group is a super example of people at risk helping and supporting each other to make lifestyle changes, often, like Agnes’ cholesterol, benefitting other associated health risks too. It was a very sociable group and it’s great that they will continue to meet up outside of the Healthier You programme.”