We all know the phrase ‘you are what you eat’, but how can we teach our young people to eat healthily to beat diseases like Diabetes, which affect nearly 4 million people in England? This week (1st-7th April 2019) is National Type-2 Diabetes prevention week, and Diabetes UK are asking us to think about how we can make small changes to our lifestyle to prevent the shocking increase in diagnoses of this illness in the UK.

A growing problem

Public Health England estimate that there are 5 million more people in England at high risk of developing Type-2 Diabetes, and it is the primary cause of over 22000 deaths each year in the UK, so it is vital that we take action to help prevent our young people developing it, and support those who already have it to try to reduce or reverse the impact of the disease.

Working with the Community

Ann from work safe and well teamed up with the lovely Joanne Parr from the Community Food Training Co. to work with primary school and nursery children and their parents on some Diabetes prevention training. We helped the children and their parents learn about the hidden sugars in our food, and we had some fun trying out some healthier choices of food and drinks.

Children are very open to new experiences, so working with them and their carers’ in the school setting is a very effective way to influence the care-givers to start making some changes in their family food choices.

We had a really joyful day sorting out ‘real food’ and ‘fake food’ and learning just how much sugar is in their favourite cereals and drinks, and several parents were feeling a little shocked to hear that their favourite cream-filled Easter treats had the equivalent of 33 spoons of sugar in one pack of five.

The children all got to make and eat their own ‘rainbow’ salad wrap, and learn some basic knife skills to help with their coordination, and also provide a really fun sensory experience with the different tastes, colours and textures of the foods on offer.  They got to try cucumber and mint-infused water as an alternative to those sugary drinks and were asked to sort food packets into order of sweetness.

The costs of not taking action

Type-2 Diabetes is a serious long-term health condition that can have devastating effects on health and lifestyle and can lead to amputations and other health conditions such as heart disease, kidney failure, sight loss and stroke, so it is vital that we educate our young people on healthy eating to reduce the numbers who develop this devastating disease each year.

Learning through play and giving the children the opportunity to try healthier choices are a  couple of easy ways to help get this message across.

Type-2 Diabetes is estimated by Public Health England to be costing the country over £8 billion each year, in health service costs and loss of productivity, caused by sickness absence or disability caused by the complications and symptoms of the disease. Did you know that:

  • 1 in 6  of all hospital patients have Diabetes
  • Common complications of Type-2 Diabetes include amputations, blindness, kidney failure and stroke
  • Type-2 Diabetes costs the Health service an estimated £8.8 billion per year in treatment costs.

It is vital that we act to help stop this trend, and we can all help by having more conversations on how we can make changes to our eating habits to reverse and prevent Type-2 Diabetes. Having fun while we do that is an added bonus and certainly made the day fly by.

Want to find out more?

Diabetes UK have a great set of tools and resources that you can use to find out your risk of developing Type-2 diabetes.

Learn how to get a free NHS ‘ Healthier You‘ health check from the @NHSDiabetesProg here.

How are you creating a #HealthierYou?

We at @worksafeandwell love to hear good news stories about how workplaces are changing lives by promoting healthier ways of working, so please get in touch to tell us how you are helping to prevent Type-2 Diabetes in your business.