The majority of people (63 per cent) are unaware that having a large waist increases the risk of Type 2 diabetes, according to a new Ipsos MORI survey.
The research, commissioned by Diabetes UK and Bupa, showed that just 37 per cent were aware that having a large waist is a risk factor for Type 2 diabetes, despite strong evidence that this is the case. Diabetes UK defines a large waist as 31.5 inches or over for women and 35 inches and over for men.
Most people (72 per cent) know that being overweight and inactive are risk factors. But Diabetes UK and Bupa have warned that people who have a body mass index (BMI) in the healthy weight range, but have a large waist, might wrongly assume they are not at high risk.
Low awareness of risk factors
Worryingly, awareness of other risk factors for Type 2 diabetes is also low. Just 10 per cent are aware that people from black or South Asian backgrounds are at increased risk. Meanwhile only 45 per cent of people think that having a relative with either type of diabetes increases their risk.
Online risk assessment tool
Diabetes UK and Bupa are concerned that people at high risk will only be able to make lifestyle changes, and help prevent Type 2 diabetes, if they are aware of the risk factors. This is why we have today launched an online risk assessment tool allowing people to measure their risk of Type 2 diabetes.
Healthy Lifestyle Roadshows
The online risk assessment complements the existing series of Diabetes UK and Bupa Healthy Lifestyle Roadshows that will tour towns and cities across the UK. These will promote healthy lifestyle advice and risk assess people for Type 2 diabetes, with those identified as high or moderate risk being referred to their GP.
Increased awareness "vital"
Paula Franklin, Medical Director, Bupa said, "These findings show just how vital it is to increase awareness of the risks of Type 2 diabetes. Unlike some other conditions, people can reduce their risk by making simple lifestyle changes such as eating healthily. However, they need to have an understanding of the risk factors in order to do so.
"Through the online risk score and Healthy Lifestyle Roadshows, we hope to highlight the risks. Together Bupa and Diabetes UK want to encourage people to make healthier lifestyle choices and reduce the number of people who get the condition."
Motivation to make changes
Barbara Young, Chief Executive of Diabetes UK, said, "The fact that awareness of some risk factors for Type 2 diabetes is so low is worrying: it is only if people know they are at high risk that they are likely to be motivated to make the lifestyle changes that can help prevent it.
"We are particularly concerned that people might think they do not have anything to worry about just because their BMI suggests that they are in the healthy weight range. But if someone carries their weight around their middle and has close family members with diabetes, they could still be at high risk.
"Public health disaster"
"We hope our roadshows help raise awareness of risk factors, because as a country we need to get much better at preventing Type 2 diabetes. If the current rate of increase continues, the number of people with diabetes is expected to rise by 700,000 by the end of the decade, with Type 2 diabetes accounting for most of this rise. This would be a public health disaster, as this scale of increase would be unsustainable for the NHS and potentially devastating for those people who develop the condition."
Having a waist size of 31.5 inches or over for women; 35 inches or over for Asian men and 37 inches or over for white and black men, increases the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes significantly.
Find out when the Healthy Lifestyle Roadshow will be in your area.