What should you know about diabetes?

Diabetes is a condition where a person is unable to control their blood sugar level, resulting in it becoming too high.

There are two main types of the condition:

  • Type 1 diabetes – where the body’s immune system attacks and eventually completely destroys the cells that produce insulin (the hormone that regulates sugar levels)
  • Type 2 diabetes  where the body doesn't produce enough insulin, or the body's cells are resistant to insulin. Type 2 is by far the most common type in the UK, affecting around 90 per cent of all adults with diabetes.

In addition some pregnant women develop Gestational Diabetes, which increases their risk of developing of developing Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus in later life.

If you treat Pre-Diabetes with dietary modification and exercise as soon as you are diagnosed, it can delay the onset of Type 2 Diabetes significantly. The NHS Health check, available to all aged 40-74 will do a screening test for Diabetes. Please make an appointment with your practice for this.

Both type 1 and type 2 diabetes put you at increased risk of:

What can you do to prevent it and improve your self-care?

If you...

  • Get active for at least 30 minutes a day, five times a week. This helps you stay at a healthy weight and maintain good general health and burns off any sugars your body has made from the food you eat.
  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet that's low in fat, salt, sugar and processed food, and high in wholemeal and fibre.
  • Lose weight if you are overweight or obese. This will help control your blood glucose level, as well as your blood pressure and cholesterol. You may qualify for 12 weeks free with Weight Watchers. Please see your GP or nurse about this.
  • Don’t smoke. Smoking increases your risk of heart disease and stroke even further. If now is the time for you to stop smoking, please visit our stop smoking page.
  • Ensure your blood pressure is regularly monitored and kept under control

.... you will reduce your risk of developing diabetes as well as a range of other health problems, including cancer and heart disease.

What if you already have diabetes?

Diabetes doesn't have to stop you from leading the life you want, nor does it mean you'll necessarily have other serious health problems in the future – particularly if you manage your condition carefully.

There are many things you can do to minimise your risk of these problems.

The most important steps are ones you take to prevent or delay health complications associated with diabetes. These include: 

  1. Stop smoking. Smoking in diabetes causes the most and the worst diabetic complications.
  2. Keep blood pressure under 130/80. Consider buying your own machine to monitor this.
  3. Keep cholesterol under control. Your GP may recommend that you need to take a statin. Some people, particularly diabetics, just produce too much cholesterol, even if they eat a perfect diet.
  4. Get active for at least 30 minutes a day, five times a week. This helps you to stay at a healthy weight and to maintain general good health. Think of a 30-minute exercise session as one of your daily medications - and walking is free!  You can get discounted gym membership at Connaught Leisure Centre or Aldershot Pools if you prefer.
  5. Lose weight if you are overweight or obese. This will help control your blood glucose level, as well as your blood pressure and cholesterol.
  6. Eat a healthy, balanced diet that's low in fat, salt and sugar. A low GI diet is great for reducing sugar levels in diabetes, and tasty too.
  7. Involve yourself in your diabetes care and monitor your sugar levels as advised by the diabetic team. Please remember to bring your readings to appointments, so they can plan the best treatments for you.
  8. Keep your appointments with your diabetic care team. Regular check-ups once every three to six months - depending on your level of diabetes control - with an annual review, are very important parts of managing your diabetes and an opportunity for you to find out how you are doing.
  9. Ensure you attend your diabetes eye screening (diabetes retinopathy screening) annually..3
  10. Check your feet! The nerve damage that can occur in diabetes most commonly affects feet.

Advise your GP or nurse if you have any infections or athletes foot, as they may need treating earlier in diabetics.

Without taking these measures, you are putting yourself at an increased risk of health problems, which could force you to change your lifestyle entirely.

If you have been prescribed medication as part of your diabetes treatment it is essential that you take it as instructed, including the correct doses of insulin, if you are on this.

Key blood test results

The amount of sugar sticking to your red blood cells is reflected in your HbA1c blood test result. This measurement is the cornerstone of how good your diabetes control is. Your personal target should be discussed with your doctor or nurse.

Your cholesterol level should be at or below 4mmol/l when fasting.


There is a structured education programme available if you have just been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. The DESMOND (Diabetes Education and Self-Management for Ongoing and Newly Diagnosed) course is available in English and in Nepali.

Diabetes UK

The largest charity focused on diabetes research in the UK, providing guidance and support, whether you have either Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, whatever your age, or if you just want to know more about diabetes.


Diabetes and driving

You must inform the DVLA if you have a medical condition that affects your driving. Failing to do so could leave you facing prosecution in the event of an accident.

For more information on this, visit the relevant sections of the Government's or Diabetes UK's websites.

Contact details for local sources of help.

Please see the contact details in the Lifestyle Matters pages of our website.

Diabetes UK

The largest charity focused on diabetes research in the UK, providing guidance and support, whether you have either Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, whatever your age, or if you just want to know more about diabetes. Webpage: Diabetes UK

NHS Choices is evidence-based and has reliable information about Diabetes as well as loads of information on Healthy living, Diet, Exercise and Stopping Smoking

Diabetes.co.uk (not to be confused with Diabetes UK) is a global network of diabetics and more of a blog but full of useful information and practical experiences of fellow Diabetics and contains useful advice.

DAFNE (Dose Adjustment For Normal Eating) is a way of managing Type 1 diabetes for adults and provides the skills necessary to estimate the carbohydrate in each meal and to inject the right dose of insulin. This service is delivered locally by the Diabetic Specialist Nurses at Frimley Park Hospital.

The aim of DAFNE is to help you lead as normal a life as possible, while controlling your blood glucose levels, hence reducing the risk of long-term diabetes complications.

DAFNE involves attending a 5-day training course (9am to 5pm Monday to Friday) plus a follow-up session around 8 weeks after the course. The structured teaching programme is delivered to groups of 6-8 participants under the supervision of DAFNE-trained Educators. The DAFNE course is about learning from experience. During the week you practice the skills of carbohydrate estimation and insulin adjustment.

Most of the training is built around group work, sharing and comparing experiences with other participants. However, there are opportunities for each person to speak to DAFNE Educators individually.

DAFNE allows people to fit diabetes into their lifestyle, rather than changing their lifestyle to fit in with their diabetes.

Locally there is now a Diabetes Specialist Nurse - Vanessa Middleton - who is based at Fleet Community Hospital.

There are plans to put on consultant-led clinics for diabetes patients in General Practice.

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