Understanding diabetes

Dr Ffion Curtis

Dr Ffion Curtis

26 August 2014

Around four million people are currently living with diabetes in the UK, a figure that is projected to increase to 6.25 and cost £16.9 billion to the NHS (17% of its annual budget) by 2035.

Aberystwyth University is hosting a Diabetes Information Evening next Wednesday 3 September between 7-9pm at the Carwyn James Building on Penglais Campus which is designed to raise awareness about diabetes and provide support for those who already have the condition.

The evening offers an open invitation to all who have an interest in or questions about diabetes and its management and is being organised by Dr Ffion Curtis, a researcher at the Department of Sport and Exercise Science at Aberystwyth University.

She explains, “A recent research study conducted by us and Hywel Dda University Health Board identified that people living in and around Aberystwyth may be at risk of vitamin D insufficiency during the winter months.

“The primary source of vitamin D comes from sun exposure. It has been known for some time that low levels of vitamin D may increase the risk of numerous conditions including multiple sclerosis, CVD, and osteoporosis - more recently it has been linked to diabetes.”

More than 160,000 people in Wales have been diagnosed with diabetes, which is 5% of the population, and is predicted to rise to 10.3% in 2020 and 11.5% by 2032.

In people with diabetes the body cannot make proper use of the glucose in the blood. This means the glucose cannot be used effectively as a fuel, and results in high blood glucose values.

Type 1 diabetes is treated with daily insulin injections. Type 2 accounting for between 85%, and 95% of all diabetes cases is treated by medication and/or insulin. The recommended treatment for all diabetes includes a healthy diet and regular physical activity.

Dr Curtis adds, “One of the primary reasons we are seeing an increase in the number of cases of diabetes is because of our changing lifestyles.

“Our diets have changed and we are much less physically active than we used to be, spending more time sitting in our cars, and in front of computer screens. We are now also seeing an increase in the number of children that are developing type 2 diabetes. If not properly managed and treated, diabetes can lead to many complications including heart disease and strokes.

“There are however, many small changes we can make to our lives, and the lives of our families that can help reduce the risk of developing diabetes, and help in the management of the condition.”

Results from Dr Curtis’ study found a significant relationship between vitamin D and blood glucose in that people with higher levels of vitamin D tended to have lower levels of glucose in their blood.

To continue her work in this area, Dr Curtis is now planning to conduct an evaluation of a new diabetes self-management program. The purpose of self-management programs are to give people the skill set and confidence to better manage their condition through lifestyle.

Speakers will include Researchers, a Dietician and a patient case study story. In attendance to answer any questions will be members of a local Diabetes UK support group, health care workers and researchers.

The evening will include information on lifestyle and the management of diabetes and will provide refreshments and a tour of building where research into diabetes is carried out.

A warm welcome (with tea and coffee) is extended to all who would like to come along to find out more about diabetes, and research into diabetes. If you would like to attend or would like some more information about the event, please contact Ffion Curtis on 01970 622576 / fic7@aber.ac.uk