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Fight festive flab to prevent prediabetes

Excessive food and drink consumption over the festive period could have increased your risk of developing prediabetes - an under-diagnosed and symptomless condition that makes you up to 15 times more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes.

Over-indulgence in too many calorific treats such as mince pies (around 200 calories each), Christmas cake (approximately 250 calories per slice) and mulled wine (about 250 calories in a glass) can leave us all struggling to buckle our belts in the New Year.


If you’re already overweight, have high blood pressure or a family history of Type 2 diabetes then you are at serious risk of developing prediabetes.

What is prediabetes?

People with prediabetes have blood glucose (sugar) levels higher than normal but not high enough to be diagnosed as Type 2 diabetes. There are an estimated seven million people in the UK living with prediabetes and recent research has shown the condition may already be causing long-term damage to the body, especially the heart and circulatory system.

Prediabetes can be reversed

It’s not all bad news though as, unlike Type 2 diabetes, prediabetes can often be reversed and the risk of going on to develop Type 2 diabetes reduced by 60 per cent - simply through losing even just a moderate amount of weight, adopting a healthy, balanced diet and increasing physical activity levels.

“Christmas is certainly the time for enjoying a few festive treats with friends and family but it’s important we compensate for this over-indulgence," said Douglas Smallwood, Chief Executive of Diabetes UK.

“Prediabetes is often a pre-cursor to Type 2 diabetes which can lead to a shortened life expectancy and devastating complications such as heart disease, stroke, blindness, kidney failure and amputation.

Eat more healthily in the New Year

“Make it your New Year’s resolution to eat more healthily and take regular physical activity.”

Being overweight or obese is one of the strongest risk factors for developing prediabetes and Type 2 diabetes, and having a large waist means you are up to twelve times more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes.

Prediabetes risk factors

Risk factors for prediabetes include:

  • having a large waist or being overweight
  • being of Black or South Asian origin
  • having a family history of the condition;
  • being over 40 years old, or over 25 if you’re Black, Asian or from an ethnic minority group.

At-risk waist measurements are 37 inches or more for men, except those of South Asian origin who are at risk at 35 inches or more, and 31.5 inches or more for all women. If a person has a large waist and one or more of these risk factors, Diabetes UK recommends they visit their GP for a simple test.

Your waist might be bigger than you think

Recent research found most people perceive themselves to be slimmer than they really are. When 500 people were asked to estimate their waist size, most underestimated by an average of 2.7 inches. Men were the most deluded and underestimated their waist size by a significant 3.1 inches (7.9 cm), while the estimates of South Asian women were generally the most accurate.

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