Majority of UK diabetes sufferers struggling to open up about their condition, says Diabetes UK

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12 Jun 2018 --- New research to mark the start of Diabetes Week in the UK reveals a high level of people with diabetes reporting difficulties in speaking about their condition. Such findings have shaped the theme for this year to be, “Talk about diabetes,” with the week focusing on encouraging people to have open conversations about the disease.

The poll of more than 2,000 UK adults, carried out by YouGov on behalf of Diabetes UK, found that one in three people (34 percent) would first seek advice online, over talking to a GP about a health concern. It also showed that less than a quarter (23 percent) of respondents said they would feel comfortable speaking to an employer about health concerns. 

Furthermore, three-quarters of people (75 percent) said they would feel comfortable talking about a friend or loved one’s health condition, while only 65 percent said they’d feel comfortable talking to friends or loved ones about their health condition.

“Talking about diabetes can be hard. But for someone living with the condition, or caring for someone who does, it can mean getting the right treatment, ensuring your rights are protected at work, or making sure your child gets the best care at school. That’s why being able to talk about diabetes and having people to talk to about the condition, is so important,” says Dan Howart, Head of Care at Diabetes UK.

An earlier survey of more than 8,000 people living with or affected by diabetes carried out by Diabetes UK showed that greater support for emotional and psychological health; better access to healthcare professionals who understand diabetes and more support and understanding at work and school were priorities for those affected by the condition. 

To support this, the charity has also developed tips to help healthcare professionals sensitively approach conversations with their patients living with diabetes, as well as to help the public start a conversation with someone they know who has the condition.

Role of the food and beverage industry
Earlier this year, Diabetes UK released the results of its survey, Food Upfront, which called for mandatory front-of-pack traffic light labeling on foods and menu calorie labeling in eating establishments. Results showed that consumers would be more likely to purchase food if it was accompanied by clear calorie labels on its packaging or on the menu of the establishment. 

In terms of diabetes sufferers, understanding the carbohydrate content of food is vital as some make adjustments to their insulin dose by counting their carbs. That is why as part of the Food Upfront campaign, they are also calling for carbohydrate content per 100g and per portion to be displayed clearly and consistently on the back of all pre-packaged foods and drinks.

Moreover, this year’s diabetes week coincides with statistics released by The Lancet that show that the UK now has higher obesity rates for 11-year-olds than America. The proportion of US children aged 9 to 11 who are obese stands at 18.5 percent, while obesity levels for those aged 10 to 11 in the UK stands at a record high 20 percent.

As body weight is one of the key drivers for Type 2 diabetes, researchers are sign-posting key ingredients that can be used to help reduce sugar and fat, as well as manage blood sugar levels and subsequently promote weight management. 

One example of this is Beneo’s prebiotic chicory root fiber Orafti Synergy1 (oligofructose-enriched inulin). A research team at the University of Calgary in Canada found that the fiber improved appetite regulation and decreased food intake in overweight and obese children, helping those children to eat less. In addition, two research studies, conducted by Professor Gary Frost and his team from Imperial College London, showed positive effects of the chicory root fiber Orafti Synergy1 in reducing the risk of diabetes. 

The presence of ingredients that can be used by diabetics, as well as clear food labeling may help the way in which someone with diabetes can control their condition and, in the line with the theme of this year’s Diabetes Week, feel open to speak about it. 

This is important as the charity states that diabetes is the most devastating and fastest growing health crisis of our time and affects more people than any other serious health condition in the UK: more than dementia and cancer combined. There is currently no known cure for any type of diabetes, however, with the right treatment, knowledge and support people living with diabetes can lead a long, full and healthy life.

By Laxmi Haigh

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