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Deadly Diabetes: Why your waist circumference matters- Do you know if you're at risk?

women with diabetes
 Photo: Courtesy

Barely a day goes by without diabetes making headlines. In fact, Type 2 diabetes is currently the fastest growing chronic condition, with one new case being diagnosed every three minutes.

By 2025, it’s estimated that millions of people around the globe will be living with the condition – so why aren’t we worried? If you don’t want to be another statistic, read on…

The two types explained

Type 1 is managed with daily insulin injections

Diabetes is a condition where the glucose levels in your blood are too high, because the body can’t use it properly. There are two main types…

Diabetes clinical advisor Margaret Stubbs explains, "Type 1 diabetes occurs when the pancreas produces very little or no insulin to help the body process the glucose. About 10% of people with diabetes have this, usually affecting children or young adults. It’s not connected to lifestyle or being overweight." It’s managed with daily insulin injections, a healthy diet and regular physical activity.

Type 2 affects the remaining 85-90% of people with diabetes. In this case, not enough insulin is produced, or the insulin that is being produced doesn’t work properly. This condition starts gradually, usually later in life, and is sometimes brought on by an unhealthy lifestyle.

80% of Type 2 diabetes cases can be delayed or prevented

So you know what’s coming… It’s time to ditch the sweet and fat stuff! While some cases of diabetes are hereditary, many are caused by diet, with obesity being a major risk factor. Adopting a low calorie diet with minimal sugar, fat and processed food is sometimes enough to reverse a diabetes diagnoses – or ward off a future one.

"We live in an environment that is absurdly full of calories and our bodies are simply not adapted to it," says diabetes expert Dr David Cavan. "From a biological perspective, Type 2 diabetes is a result of modern day lifestyles and is essentially reversible."

Carrying excess fat around your middle is one of the biggest risk factors of developing Type 2 diabetes.

"There is evidence to suggest women with a waist circumference of more than 88cm (35in) have a much higher risk of developing diabetes," says Dr Aftab Ahmad, diabetes consultant.

Measure your waist across your belly button, not under it, to check your risk. "Reducing this circumference can help prevent the development of diabetes and, if you’ve already developed it, you’ll find it easier to control by losing weight," adds Dr Ahmad.

If not managed correctly, diabetes can lead to blindness, heart failure, kidney failure, stroke and lower limb amputation (high blood sugar levels can damage your nerves and blood vessels, particularly those in your feet).

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