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Taking steps to reduce my type 2 diabetes risk – Joanne's story

Lady stands by a canal smiling into the camera


Found out she was at increased risk of type 2 diabetes after completing the Know Your Risk tool.

"Finding out my type 2 diabetes risk was the real catalyst for change for me."

Joanne found out that she was at risk for type 2 diabetes after using our Know Your Risk tool. By thinking about her goals and following our advice about eating well and moving more, she was able to start losing weight and reduce her type 2 diabetes risk. 

Journey with diabetes

My family experience with diabetes

Diabetes is prevalent in our family – my sister has type 1, as did my grandfather, and my father was diagnosed with type 2 not long before he died when I was 16. It had become commonplace though because it’s been in the background of our lives for so long. I hadn’t seriously thought about my risk of developing type 2.  

My daughter works for Diabetes UK and often shares news stories and research about diabetes with me. I decided to fill in the Know Your Risk tool when I heard about Diabetes UK and Tesco’s big campaign to help more people find out their risk of getting type 2 diabetes. I thought it might just be an interesting thing to do because of our family history. I wasn’t necessarily expecting to find out that I was at risk. 

The Know Your Risk tool said I was at moderate risk, which I found quite shocking. It shouldn’t have been because I know I’m overweight and have a family history, but nevertheless, it was a bit of a wake-up call. 

Food and healthy eating

Making changes to reduce my risk

The next thing I did was continue through to the online support tools on the Diabetes UK website. Often I just think ‘oh I’ll look at that later’ but I was inspired to really go for it and follow the links. I read all the information about losing weight and diets and increasing your exercise levels, and I printed off some of the free downloads where you can think about planning goals and tracking your habits. Thinking about how I wanted to feel and what I wanted to achieve was really helpful.  

Making the changes actually felt easy. I’ve done various diets over the years and already knew a bit about what helped me to lose weight, but the busy-ness of life as a mum and full-time childminder, as well as the emotional and mental side of things when it comes to weight loss, meant that I hadn't easily kept weight off before. The information I looked at reinforced the knowledge I already had and knowing that I’d taken the time to plan my goals and think about what this would all actually mean for me, I didn’t want to let myself down by not sticking to the plan and making the changes.  

I wrote out a shopping list and planned what snacks and meals I’d have - I like rules, they help me stick to a plan!  

Looking forwards 

I initially lost about half a stone in the first month or so, because I was so determined to stick to my plan. I felt really positive, really engaged in making the changes and wanted to succeed.  

I want to continue to lose the weight that I need to and I think the tools from Diabetes UK will help me to reduce my risk of getting type 2. I’m looking forward to getting some new clothes and feeling better about myself and fitter too. 

I'm really glad that I used Know Your Risk. It kickstarted me to make changes in my life that I already knew I needed to make for a variety of reasons, but finding out my risk of type 2 diabetes was the real catalyst for me.  

Talking to my friends about using Know Your Risk 

After I used the tool, I shared what I'd learnt with some of my fellow childminders who I knew would be interested.  

If one of them came to me and said they’d also found out that they were at higher risk, I’d advise them to do what I did and download the activity and goal planning trackers. That really worked for me.

I'd tell them to look at the diet information too and think about healthy foods that fill you up and leave you feeling satisfied – not necessarily just counting calories and depriving yourself of things you like. For me, I love making a vegetable and lentil soup with coconut milk in it. It’s so tasty and satisfying and because of the coconut that I don’t feel like I need bread and butter with it that will make my blood sugar levels spike. 


Raising money for Diabetes UK

I got into outdoor swimming in May 2020, during the first lockdown. I'd enjoyed indoor swimming before but couldn’t do that anymore during the early days of the pandemic. I started going with a friend and quickly became addicted! We built up an amazing local community of swimmers, which inspired me to swim more regularly in the river.  

Signing up to Swim22 

My daughter knew how much swimming I was doing anyway and shared Diabetes UK’s Swim22 challenge with me, which I decided to do in 2021.  

I committed to the challenge, where you swim the equivalent of the length of the English Channel in 12 weeks, and thought it would be easy since I already loved swimming. I ended up swimming loads more than I usually would and really pushed myself to finish it. I raised £324 and felt really proud of myself. 

One of my big inspirations to do the challenge was my close friend Steph, who lives with type 1. Seeing the tech diabetes tech she uses, I just think it’s an amazing way for people with diabetes to improve their lives and have less hassle day to day.

Seeing how things have changed since my grandad was alive is just astonishing. He would have been diagnosed probably in the 1930s or 1940s. He had to use massive needles for his insulin, which had to be sterilised daily, and I remember my grandmother using old-fashioned weighing scales to religiously portion all his food. Things have come on massively since then and funding research into these technological advancements was a massive inspiration for me to fundraise, so it can keep going. 

Diabetes UK and me

Why I support Diabetes UK

Supporting DUK is so worthwhile, because of the information that’s getting out to people who need it and helping people decide to make changes in their lives. Raising awareness of technology and research is inspiring, especially because of my family history. I hope this inspires other people as well and that awareness can keep the research going. When my sister was diagnosed as a child, it was quite scary and difficult to see. If Diabetes UK can keep supporting newly diagnosed young people with type 1 and their families, so that they don’t have to have the same experiences that we did when we were younger, that’s amazing.  

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