Younger men urged to get to grips with type 2 diabetes risk

By Editor
26th May 2023
Diabetes UK, Good practice Type 2 diabetes Type 2 prevention

Men aged 40 and under are being urged to take a free and simple check, to understand their risk of type 2 diabetes in a campaign for Diabetes Prevention Week 2023.

New research commissioned by partners Diabetes UK and Tesco has revealed that men under 40 are most likely to be spurred into action to improve their health by a health scare, or if a health professional such as a GP said they needed to.

However, this Prevention Week Diabetes UK and Tesco are warning that as the signs of having type 2 diabetes may not be obvious, and with increasing numbers of people aged under 40 developing the life-changing condition, it’s vital for even younger individuals to know their risk.

A free, simple and potentially life-saving assessment to better understand individual risk of type 2 diabetes can be carried out at any of the more than 370 Tesco Pharmacies  across the UK, or online via riskscore.diabetes.org.uk/c/tesco.

Anyone who completes an assessment will be directed to free advice and information on the help and support available to manage their risk.

Chris Askew OBE, Chief Executive at Diabetes UK, said: While developing type 2 diabetes isn’t looming large on the minds of most young men, we’re seeing increased numbers of men in this age group developing this serious and life-altering condition.

“Managing your weight, eating healthily and doing more physical activity can all contribute to reducing your risk of getting type 2 diabetes, and starting those habits at a younger age can set you up on a healthy path for later life, when we really see people’s risk increase.”

He added: “Understanding the risk factors of type 2 diabetes, and your own personal risk based on your family history, ethnicity and general health is so important.

“Getting a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes is life-changing. Younger men have the chance now to make changes that could reduce their risk of developing the condition, and know how to help keep it at bay.”

Jason Tarry, CEO for the UK and Republic of Ireland at Tesco, noted: “Type 2 diabetes is one of the most common health conditions we face in the UK, but the reality is that many cases could be prevented or delayed. And we know that a healthy diet is one of the ways to reduce your risk.

“In communities across the country, we have a brilliant network of friendly and helpful Tesco Pharmacy colleagues that serve half a million customers a week.”

He concluded: “We’d like to see as many people as possible come and assess their type 2 diabetes risk and understand the steps to reduce it.

“Through our longstanding partnership with Diabetes UK, and our Better Baskets campaign, we’re committed to helping customers make healthier food choices and lead healthier lives.”

Eating more portions of fruit and veg and moving more are just two of the ways to reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes, yet the survey of 2,000 men found that 82 per cent were eating on average less than five portions of fruit and veg a day and 86 per cent were getting under 150 minutes of exercise a week, falling short of recommended healthy levels.

Men responding to the survey said that their breakfast was their mealtime in most need of a healthy makeover.

As part of its commitment to help customers make healthier food choices, Tesco has also produced a series of healthy and budget-friendly recipes for Prevention Week, approved by Diabetes UK, which are available through the Tesco Real Food website.

Analysis of NHS data by Diabetes UK and Tesco last year found that cases of type 2 diabetes – historically associated with older people – rose at a faster rate among those under 40 than in those over 40 over the past five years.

Tesco and Diabetes UK launched the Know Your Risk tool in Tesco pharmacies and online in November 2022, but data showed half as many men completing it as women.

Combined with the fact that one in four men under 40 admit to being afraid of the possible outcome as a barrier to seeking professional medical advice about a health concern, Diabetes UK and Tesco are urging younger men to take action and understand their risk.

Registered cases of type 2 in this age group increased by 23 per cent in just five years and Diabetes UK predicts the number of people in the UK aged under 40 living with a diagnosis of the condition could hit 200,000 by 2027.

In 2019-20 57,400 men aged between 26-39 were known to have a type 2 diabetes diagnosis in England.

The condition is known to have more severe and acute consequences in people under 40 and, without the right treatment and support, it can lead to serious complications that include kidney failure and heart disease.

White men are more at risk of type 2 diabetes if they’re over 40, but just one in seven (14 per cent) of men under 40 surveyed were aware of this. For people from African-Caribbean, Black African, Chinese or South Asian backgrounds, this risk increases far younger – from age 25 – yet only one in ten (11 per cent) of men surveyed knew this.

While type 2 diabetes is often stigmatised as a condition that people bring on themselves, the risk factors are multiple and complex, and include family history and ethnicity, as well as living with obesity or overweight, among other factors.

Social deprivation is also an issue. Factors such as income, education, housing, access to healthy food, as well as poorer access to healthcare, have been shown to be strongly linked to an increased risk of developing several health conditions – including obesity and type 2 diabetes. As a result, people who are at increased risk of type 2 diabetes are all-too-often less likely to be able to benefit from support to manage it.

Type 2 diabetes has until recently been quite rare in those aged under 40, so many people – including healthcare professionals – don’t always recognise the symptoms.

Photo by Mikhail Nilov from Pexels

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