November is Diabetes Month, a time to shed light on a growing global health challenge. In recent years, diabetes has more than doubled in most Western countries, straining healthcare systems worldwide. The primary risk factor for diabetes, particularly type 2 diabetes, is obesity. Excess fat in the abdominal area significantly increases the risk of developing diabetes.
The good news is that diabetes is a reversible condition. Exercise treatments and dietary changes can make a profound difference. Engaging in moderate-intensity exercises like jogging, park walks, or cardio workouts can reduce the risk of diabetes by almost 50%. If you're unsure how to start an exercise plan, reach out to us for assistance in creating an easy-to-follow diabetes exercise program.
About 1.3 million Australian adults, which represents 1 person in 20, are currently living with type 2 diabetes. Surprisingly, the majority of new diabetes cases can be managed through positive lifestyle changes, exercise, and mindful eating. Raising awareness of diabetes and pre-diabetes signs, promoting healthy behaviours, and seeking early diagnosis through a diabetes test can be instrumental in the fight against this condition.
Let's delve into the major risk factors for type 2 diabetes:
Obesity: The leading risk factor for type 2 diabetes is obesity. It is defined as having a Body Mass Index (BMI) over 30 and accounts for 80-85% of the risk of developing diabetes. Obesity is no longer confined to older individuals; it now affects children and young adults. Excess fat in the abdomen area is particularly concerning and raises the diabetes risk. Notably, even thin individuals can develop diabetes due to visceral fat.
Lack of Exercise: A sedentary lifestyle increases the risk of obesity and, subsequently, diabetes. Regular physical activity enhances insulin efficiency and reduces the risk of acquiring diabetes.
Ageing: As we age, the risk of type 2 diabetes increases. Studies show that the pancreas becomes less efficient in insulin production, and the body develops resistance to insulin as we grow older. Countries with aging populations tend to have higher diabetes rates.
High Blood Pressure: High blood pressure is not only a risk factor for diabetes but also for various chronic illnesses. It is often considered a pre-diabetic symptom. High cholesterol levels, often diet-related, are also linked to type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and chronic kidney disease.
Processed Food: Unhealthy dietary habits play a significant role in diabetes risk. Consuming heavily processed foods like snacks, sugary processed products, frozen dinners, and sugary pasta sauces can lead to diabetes, obesity, weight gain, and cardiovascular complications. Processed foods often contain additives and hidden sugars, making it crucial to choose healthy options when shopping.
Genetic Predisposition: Family history and genetics can also play a significant role in diabetes risk. If you have close relatives with diabetes, your risk may be higher. Understanding your family's medical history can help in early awareness and prevention.
Gestational Diabetes: Pregnancy can bring about gestational diabetes, which affects some women. Although it typically goes away after childbirth, it increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life. Monitoring and managing gestational diabetes during pregnancy is crucial.
Stress and Sleep: Chronic stress and insufficient sleep have been associated with an increased risk of developing diabetes. Stress management and prioritising quality sleep are essential for overall health and diabetes prevention.
Alcohol Consumption: Excessive alcohol consumption can contribute to weight gain and lead to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes. Moderation and mindful drinking are advisable to mitigate this risk.
Regular Check-ups: Routine health check-ups can help identify early warning signs of diabetes, such as high blood sugar levels. Regular monitoring of key health parameters, especially for individuals with risk factors, is vital in diabetes prevention.
Community Support: Encouraging community and peer support for those at risk of or living with diabetes can be an essential part of managing the condition. Sharing experiences and knowledge can help individuals make healthier choices and stay motivated.
Diverse Cultural Considerations: Recognizing that different cultures may have unique dietary and lifestyle factors that influence diabetes risk is important. Tailoring diabetes prevention and management strategies to specific cultural needs can enhance their effectiveness.
If you're ready to make positive lifestyle changes and reduce your risk of diabetes, don't hesitate to contact Full Circle Wellness for a consultation with an exercise physiologist and/or our dietitian. Let's work together to reverse your risk of diabetes and promote a healthier future.