Losing weight can help people with diabetes tackle their condition and improve their overall health.
There is clear evidence that obesity is a direct risk factor for type 2 diabetes, and steady and sustainable weight loss can reduce the risk, or even reverse the condition. Experts advocate a plan of healthy eating combined with regular exercise.
Figures show that 67% of men and 60% of women are overweight or obese, giving an indication of the scale of the diabetes risk across the UK.
Jo Measures, Head of Health Solutions at WW (Weight Watchers reimagined), says: “The clinical evidence is very clear; we know that if somebody is overweight or obese but change their diet and get more physically active, then they can push back that risk of developing the disease.
“If they have type 2 diabetes already then through losing weight, if they need to, being more physically active and changing their diet, they can put the condition into remission.”
The growing weight epidemic has become a public health crisis but The Healthier You: NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme, a collaboration between NHS England, Public Health England and Diabetes UK is helping tackle that, with WW one of the partner providers in the scheme.
Type 2 diabetes is a condition that can have severe consequences. “It can lead to sores and infections in the feet and ultimately lead to lower limb amputations, for example, heart and kidney disease explains Measures. “We also know people living with obesity are twice as likely to be hospitalised by COVID-19.”
A ‘diet’ is about understanding individual tastes and cultural and economic factors and tailoring nutritional plans to suit lifestyles.
People can lose weight by eating less, eating differently, and exercising but she warned it is not a “short-term fix.”
“The diabetes prevention programme lasts nine months, because clinical evidence points to that being the amount of time it takes for people to improve their lifestyle, develop those behaviour change techniques and develop new habits,” she adds.
The plan also includes the importance of looking after mental as well as physical health, drinking more water and getting better sleep.
She emphasises that a ‘diet’ is about understanding individual tastes and cultural and economic factors and tailoring nutritional plans to suit lifestyles.
With people from ethnic groups genetically more pre-disposed to type 2 diabetes, an emphasis is on reaching those sectors of the community and also men, who make up approximately a third of all participants on the programme.
What to know about your risk?
NDPP success story
Grandmother Sue Foster has lost more than six stone in weight in a determined fight against her diabetes.
Sue Foster has come a long way in the last three years.
Living with obesity and diabetes, she put on more weight following the death of her husband Anthony in March 2018. It wasn’t until just before Christmas 2019 she went to hospital, at around 20 stone and with a sky-high glycated haemoglobin (or HbA1c) measure of 85.
Two months later, the former nurse from Rochdale, stopped living off meal deals, joined WW (Weight Watchers reimagined) and switched to a healthy diet of wholewheat rice and pasta, fish, chicken, fruit and vegetables and cut out alcohol.
I feel so much better mentally and physically.
Just over a year later, she is significantly lighter at 11 stone 9lbs with her HbA1c a moderate 41.
Sue, 58, even overcame the setback of having a malignant melanoma removed from her arm and a heart scare to stay on track with her diet.
She has stopped her blood pressure medication because of the weight loss and is hopeful to come off her diabetes medication in the next few months.
“I am feeling so much healthier,” she says. “Once I started losing weight, I actually liked what I saw in the mirror, it was nice to feel like me again.”
And she’s exercising too, courtesy of Brian, a golden retriever and poodle cross who ensures she walks 15,000-20,000 steps without discomfort.
“Before I could not even walk down street without being out of breath and feeling pain in my joints,” she said. “I feel so much better mentally and physically, although I do miss my husband terribly, but I would not have been able to do it without WW.”
What to know about your risk?