Are you aware of your diabetes risk?

A poll of 2,000 UK adults has revealed that nine in 10 aren’t worried about their blood sugar levels, while a third of people don’t know what their blood sugar level is. The survey, carried out by nutritional supplement manufacturer Pharma Nord, suggests many people aren’t taking their blood sugar levels seriously.

According to Diabetes UK, about 3.7 million adults in this country have diabetes, including an estimated 850,000 people who have the condition but don’t realise it. Ninety percent of the people affected have Type 2 diabetes, claims the NHS, which also estimates 4.6 million people in England alone will have diabetes by the year 2030.

Despite this increasing risk, the survey shows that many people aren’t taking action to protect themselves against the onset of diabetes.

For instance, experts believe lifestyle factors such as maintaining a healthy weight, taking regular exercise and eating a healthy diet may help reduce the risk of developing the disease.

But the survey suggests just one in three people aged 45 and older are eating healthily to reduce their risk of becoming ill, despite the fact that the risk of developing diabetes increases as you get older. The report also reveals that fewer than a third of people visit their GP for regular check-ups and blood tests.

“Modern, western diets are high in sugary food and carbohydrates and so it is not surprising that Type 2 diabetes is increasingly prevalent in the UK,” says Pharma Nord managing director Bent Henriksen. “In fact, one in three adults in the UK has high blood sugar, which can contribute to the cravings often experienced by those who struggle to lose weight or resist sugary snacks and junk food.”

The good news is that 80 percent of cases of Type 2 diabetes can be delayed or prevented by making simple lifestyle changes, claims Diabetes UK. Some of the risk factors – including your age and family history – can’t be changed, but others can. Managing your weight, for instance, could make a big difference.

According to Diabetes UK, if you’re overweight, losing about five percent of your body weight could greatly reduce your chance of developing Type 2 diabetes (in fact, for each kilogram you lose, you could reduce your risk by up to 15 percent).

Meanwhile, if you live in England and are between 40 and 74 years old, you may be entitled to have an NHS Health Check every five years. This is a check-up carried out by your GP or practice nurse that examines your risk of cardiovascular disease as well as your risk of Type 2 diabetes. Find out more by asking at your GP’s surgery.

You can also have your diabetes risk assessed at one of many local pharmacies. This involves a simple finger-prick blood test – and if your results show that your blood glucose levels are higher than they should be, your pharmacist will refer you to your GP for further testing.

Your pharmacist can also give you lots of advice and information on how to make simple changes to your daily life that can help protect you against Type 2 diabetes, so find your nearest participating pharmacy by using our online Pharmacy Finder. If you want to find out whether you could be at risk of Type 2 diabetes, you can also take our Diabetes Self-Assessment Test.

Find out more about how pharmacists can help people who have been diagnosed with diabetes by reading our Q&As.