For 2,000 years, diabetes has been recognized as a devastating and deadly disease. The term diabetes is the shortened version of the full name diabetes mellitus. Diabetes mellitus is derived from:
- the Greek word diabetes meaning siphon - to pass through
- the Latin word mellitus meaning honeyed or sweet
People with high blood pressure have an almost 60 percent greater chance of developing type 2 diabetes, also factors such as poor diet, in particular low levels of Vitamin D, sitting too much - a sedentary lifestyle, poor physical activity as well as over consumption of alcohol are all contributing factors to the development of diabetes. However, there are no lifestyle changes which can reduce the risk of a person developing type 1 diabetes.
If left untreated diabetes can cause major problems such as: cardiovascular disease; neuropathy (nerve damage); kidney damage; retinopathy - damage to the blood vessels of the retina; nerve damage in the feet and also type 2 diabetes can increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
Prediabetes is where blood sugar levels are abnormally high, but lower than the threshold for diagnosing diabetes. It is estimated that around 5-10% of people with prediabetes will go on to progress "full-blown" type 2 diabetes and by 2025 it is estimated that there could be 5 million people in the UK with diabetes. Diabetes is already costing the NHS almost £10 billion a year and 80% of this is spent on managing avoidable complications.
‘Increase physical activity and decrease risk of development of type 2 diabetes’
Sedentary society - the time spent with sitting activities is accelerating, and an increasing number of studies have focused on the deleterious health consequences of prolonged sitting. There is substantial evidence that physical activity is associated with a reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes (just a 60 minute walk a day halves the risk of type 2 diabetes).
‘Take care of your body it is the only place you have to live in’
Physical activity is an important part of the daily maintenance of glucose levels, as chronic inactivity leads to impaired glucose control. The consistent association between obesity and physical inactivity and increased prevalence of diabetes is disturbing, it is becoming a matter of “fitness versus diabetes” how many steps do you take a day?
The role of Occupational Health Services in the management of diabetes for employees is very important, as companies may require guidance on whether employees can remain in a particular job or whether they need to be redeployed. An expert opinion from Occupational Health Services means a careful match between the employee’s abilities and health (as some jobs are physically more demanding than others) whilst observing statutory requirements.