Some 30,000 people in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly are already living with Type 2 diabetes, and hundreds more may not be aware they have already it. A further 26,000 people are at an increased risk of treat the condition unless they make some simple lifestyle changes.
Lindsey Hainsworth, 56, who lives near Bude, was 1 of those people who were at risk until she was referred to Healthier You, a year-long prevention course that is funded by NHS England and delivered across the South West by Living Well Taking Control.
Healthier You supports people to make changes to their diet, weight and the amount of exercise they take, to reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes developing. GPs can refer people to this free service.
Lindsey has Type 2 diabetes in her family, and was terrified of developing the condition. She was shocked when a blood test showed her blood sugar levels were so high that she would follow in the footsteps of her relatives if she didn’t make some lifestyle changes.
She was referred to Healthier You and was motivated to make some changes to her diet, and take some exercise to reduce her blood sugar levels. She also lost weight and received a huge confidence boost, which led her to think about other changes in her life, including becoming a volunteer for the service in Bude.
She was so grateful for the support she received that she decided to help others. She said: “People share real stories, ideas and discuss the changes they have made. People think they have been referred to an exercise class but it’s not about that, it’s about education; for example, instead of having all fruit as 5 or your day, have 4 pieces of veg and then 1 piece of fruit.
“I think people could see that because I had been on the course I could empathise with the changes they are trying to make, and because you attend the group for a year it means the changes really stick with you. Many people find the group environment supportive and have made friends who they keep in touch with, even after they’ve finished the year”, added Lindsey.
Dr Kerry Bailey, a GP and public health consultant said: “Healthier You is completely free to anyone with a high HbA1c (which means there is too much sugar in your blood). There is lots of capacity for more people to join, so please ask your surgery if you have a high blood sugar reading.”
GPs in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly have made 2,300 referrals to Healthier You in the past 18 months. Dr Bailey added: “It’s a real missed opportunity for people not to take up the programme and reverse their risk, and prevent themselves developing this chronic disease that can lead to heart attacks, strokes, and even death.”