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Lee Latchford-Evans Q and A: How diabetes has affected me

lee steps one million steps
lee steps one million steps

What inspired you to start raising money/awareness for Diabetes UK?

“My grandad had [type 2] diabetes, my dad was diagnosed with diabetes a few years ago and my mother-in-law had diabetes [both also type 2].

Unfortunately, we lost my dad and mother-in-law this year, not because of diabetes I may add, but having diabetes did not help their situation. I wanted to do something positive to help raise awareness and understanding.”

Being surrounded by people with the diagnoses, what changes have you made in your own life?

“My grandad and dad having both had diabetes increases the chances of me having it, so I am quite mindful of my lifestyle choices – from keeping active to eating a generally healthy diet.”

How aware of diabetes were you growing up compared to now?

“In truth, I was not that aware of diabetes growing up. My dad was diagnosed later on in life and I didn’t have any close friends who had diabetes.”

For someone without diabetes, what do you think they might not understand about the condition?

“The ultimate goal would be to live in a world where diabetes can do no harm. Until that day, we need to keep up the awareness.”

“From my perspective, (others with families including someone with type 1 diabetes might give a different answer), there is a danger someone who doesn’t have diabetes might think less about what we are eating, they might not worry about whether blood sugars are too high and they may not understand symptoms of diabetes like going the bathroom too much, or not always having energy to choose to do what we want to do.”

How have you helped in the fight against diabetes?

“I have helped raise awareness for Diabetes UK over the years by taking part in the Virgin London Triathlon, The London BUPA 10k, I have ridden from London to Paris, taken on the Prudential Ride 100 race and this year was the face for Diabetes UK’s 1Million Step Challenge. This was a fantastic event as we just asked people to move a little more than they normally would by walking that extra bus stop, a little bit further with the dog, counting your steps when cleaning the house etc. Each individual had three months to walk one million steps and they could do it however they wanted to. This roughly equates to 11,000 steps a day. Diabetes UK raised well over £300,000 through this campaign.”

What is the biggest change you want to see in the fight against diabetes?

“The ultimate goal would be to live in a world where diabetes can do no harm. Until that day, we need to keep up the awareness.”

How has the fight against diabetes progressed since you started working with Diabetes UK three years ago?

“It’s nice to see the facts coming through and the myths being broken down, for example – “Type 2 is a mild form of diabetes.” There is no such thing. If not controlled, all forms of diabetes can lead to serious complications. Another myth – “If you have Diabetes you can’t have sugar.” That’s not at all true. It’s more that you should follow a healthy, balanced diet that is low in fat, salt and sugar.”

What can people do to do their part in raising awareness/money?

“If you’ve been affected by diabetes in any way you can contact the diabetes team at the website www.diabetes.org.uk

You can donate on the site and/or discuss options about setting up your own personal page or challenge to help raise awareness.”

What advice do you have for people who might be at risk of diabetes?

“I think, just try to be mindful of the situation by having the right healthy foods in the fridge. Try to encourage a more active lifestyle, be aware and able to spot warning signs of low blood sugars such as feeling shaky or sweating. Learn how to spot symptoms of high blood sugars, like loss of weight, lack of energy, or going to the bathroom more. If you have one, always keep a blood glucose testing device readily available and check your glucose levels are not too low or high several times a day.”

Lee Latchford-Evans was the ambassador for Diabetes UK’s 2018 1 million Step Challenge. www.diabetes.org.uk

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