The new scheme hopes to combat type 2 diabetes by encouraging people to monitor their health.
By Anna Bonet
The NHS has announced that thousands of people who are at risk of type 2 diabetes will be offered wearable technology such as the Fitbit, in an effort to combat the disease.
The fitness trackers or smart watches will help to monitor levels of exercise, allowing people to set and work towards goals such as number of steps per day. Much of the wearable technology also offers corresponding apps which include health advice and educational content.
‘The success of the pilot’s early findings shows we are breaking new ground to help those most at risk of type 2 diabetes to literally take their health into their own hands at their own time and pace,’ said Dr Jennifer Smith, diabetes programme director at Public Health England (PHE).
‘Many of us use on-the-go digital technology every day and this is a fabulous next step in diabetes prevention.’
Almost four million people in England have type 2 diabetes, and the NHS spends more than £6 billion treating the condition every year.
‘With millions of people in the UK at increased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, it’s vital that the NHS England Diabetes Prevention Programme is able to reach as many people as possible,’ Nikki Joule, policy manager at Diabetes UK, said.
‘This pilot has shown that a digital version of the NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme has the potential to encourage a wider range of people to participate,’ she added. ‘This could be vital in reaching more of the millions of people at risk of Type 2 diabetes, and in helping to reduce the increasing prevalence of the condition.’
What is type 2 diabetes?
Type 2 diabetes is a chronic condition that occurs when your body can no longer control the amount of sugar in your blood. It can lead to a number of health complications if not managed properly, including heart disease, sight loss and nerve damage.
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Type 2 diabetes is a chronic condition that means you can’t control the amount of sugar in your blood.
‘Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas gland in the abdomen, and this controls the use of glucose (sugar) within the body,’ explains Dr Roger Henderson. ‘The blood sugar level will rise if the pancreas produces little or no insulin (Type 1 diabetes), or if the pancreas produces insulin, but it’s inadequate for the body’s needs and its effectiveness is reduced (Type 2 diabetes).’
‘[Type 2 diabetes is the] most common in people who are overweight and who don’t get enough exercise,’ he adds.
Type 2 diabetes symptoms
According to Dr Henderson, typical symptoms of diabetes include:
- Increased thirst.
- Frequent urination.
- Weight loss, although appetite often increases (especially in Type 1 diabetes).
- Itchiness, especially around the genitals.
- Recurrent infections on the skin, such as boils.
How to prevent of type 2 diabetes
According to Dr Henderson, ways of reducing your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes include:
✔️ Stop smoking! Head over to our quit smoking section for tips.
✔️ Research: Be aware of the symptoms of diabetes if you have a history of it in your family.
✔️ Diet: Cut refined sugar out of your diet.
✔️ Blood pressure check: Have your blood pressure checked regularly and treated if it is high.
✔️ Cholesterol level check: Know what your cholesterol level is and reduce this if it is high by eating a low-fat diet.
✔️ Lose weight: If you are overweight or obese, now is the time to lose weight. This is the single biggest way of reducing your risk of developing diabetes. Waist circumference is particularly important here as a waist size greater than 89cm in women and 102cm in men significantly increases the risk of developing diabetes.