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A special campaign urging black, asian and ethnic minority people to prevent or delay the development of Type 2 diabetes has been launched by NHS England and NHS Improvement in Lincolnshire.
The call out comes as we are reminded that black, asian and ethnic minority people are three times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than white people and that if left untreated, it can lead to sight loss, kidney failure, loss of a limb and it also increases the risk of heart attack or stroke.
People living with diabetes face a significantly higher risk of dying with Covid-19 with a third of deaths in England associated with the condition, according to NHS research. However, better management of the condition can help improve control and lead to better outcomes.
The campaign is asking black, asian and ethnic minority people to know their risk of developing Type 2 diabetes through using the ‘Know Your Risk’ tool hosted by Diabetes UK. Anyone at moderate or high risk of developing the condition may be eligible to join their local Healthier You NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme, a joint initiative from NHS England and NHS Improvement, Public Health England and Diabetes UK. The programme supports people to make positive changes to their diet, weight and the amount of physical activity they do – to significantly reduce the risk of developing this disease.
Over half a million people have been referred into the NHS Diabetes Prevention programme including Lincolnshire resident Marcelle Mackenzie. The programme provides personalised support to help people achieve a healthy weight, improve their diet and become more physically active, all together which have been shown to reduce the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.
Marcelle, aged 50, lives in Tallington, Lincolnshire and was told that her blood sugar level was too high by her GP. Marcelle knew all about the consequences of diabetes as it runs in her family, so she was keen to benefit from the NHS Diabetes Prevention programme. “When I started the programme, run by ICS Health & Wellbeing, in November 2019 my blood level was 46, but after completing the programme in July 2020 it went down to 41. I was really happy and rejoiced,” says Marcelle who has also been able to shed over 1.5 stone. “It was a very careful celebration though because I have learned from this programme that you have to be so careful what you eat and the portions that you have,” adds Marcelle.
“I am now more sensible especially when it comes to shopping and looking out for how much sugar and salt there is on the labels,” says Marcelle. “We believe in doing our own cooking and we don’t really go for the pre-cooked meals in supermarkets so it’s all fresh stuff that we use. It’s also important to cut out unhealthy snacks so that you have a healthy diet including fish, fruit and vegetables. The programme was also really helpful in how to manage portion sizes. Exercises were a critical part of my routine too and I benefited enormously from them.”
Marcelle’s message to black and south asian people who are worried about getting Type 2 diabetes is clear. “Do not hesitate, know your risk and get on board the programme. Make sure you attend all the sessions and apply what you learn. It’s all about making changes to your lifestyle and if I can do it, I’m sure other people can.”
Dr Sunil Hindocha, GP at Portland Medical Practice in Lincoln and Clinical Director of Marina Primary Care Network, said:
“There are several risk factors for Type 2 diabetes, some of which, such as your age or your family history that can’t be changed. However, it’s really important for the community to take heed that there are other risk factors such as your weight which are very much in your control – indeed, the risk of Type 2 diabetes can be reduced by getting support to lose weight, getting more physically active and eating healthy food. I urge everyone from the community to take a pragmatic and practical approach to this very serious health condition to reduce your risk.”
People can find out if they are eligible to join their local programme by completing the Diabetes UK risk tool at riskscore.diabetes.org.uk. Anyone who is identified as at moderate to high risk of Type 2 diabetes using the Diabetes UK risk tool, can refer themselves to a local service for support remotely or online, without having to go through a healthcare professional.
The NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme has continued through the pandemic via telephone and video calls and is also available digitally using websites and apps.
To find out your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, visit: www.diabetes.org.uk/knowyourrisk.