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I've already got Type 2 diabetes, why is my lifestyle important to my health? 

Well, it will come as no surprise to those in-the-know that there are a variety of factors including your genes, your lifestyle habits and some environmental factors that have all played a role in the development of your condition. Type 2 diabetes is much more complex than the typical mainstream view of "you eat too much sugar so you get Type 2 diabetes".

But the statistics do make for uncomfortable reading - there are a lot of adults in the UK who are overweight or obese. Recent NHS data suggests that around 63% of us fall into this category.1 And those extra pounds can cause problems with our health, whether we have diabetes or not.

The good news is that it’s not all completely out of our control! By making some lifestyle changes if you already have Type 2 diabetes, it may be possible to not only control your symptoms, but it could also minimise your risk of developing complications.2 So what steps can you take to make a positive change?

Create healthy habits

There are a variety of health benefits, both physical and mental, from spending less time sitting down and being more physically active. This includes improved sleep, stress management, and quality of life to name a few.3 But it’s not just physical activity that matters, eating well is also important regardless of whether you have diabetes or not. What you choose to eat or drink influences how well you feel and how much energy you have every day. Making small changes to improve your eating habits and activity levels can make a big difference!

Lose weight if necessary

It’s no secret that weight can be a sensitive issue, particularly as not everyone with Type 2 diabetes is necessarily overweight.4 But whether you want to lose a few pounds or are a healthy weight already – the evidence shows that achieving and maintaining a healthy weight will benefit your health.

Being overweight can make your diabetes more difficult to control as excess weight can make it harder for your body to use insulin properly. Losing weight if you are carrying extra pounds is a good choice, not just for the feel-good factor but for the long-term health benefits too.

Talk to your diabetes healthcare team

If you manage your diabetes with insulin and/or tablets, remember to let your diabetes healthcare team know if you are thinking about starting a new lifestyle programme. Your doses and medication may need to be adjusted as you start to lose weight and become more active.

There are also other important aspects to diabetes care – including blood glucose testing, blood pressure management and drug treatment as well. So talk to you healthcare team about getting support with an individualised care plan that takes into account your needs and preferences to make sure you get the right support for you.

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1 http://digital.nhs.uk/catalogue/PUB23742 [accessed 28.11.2017] NHS Digital. Statistics on Obesity, Physical Activity and Diet. England 2017. In 2015, 58% of women and 68% of men were overweight or obese.

2 https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/type-2-diabetes/ [accessed 28.11.2017]

3 https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/541233/Physical_activity_infographic.PDF [accessed 27.11.2017]

4 Eckel RH, Kahn SE, Ferrannini E, et al. Obesity and type 2 diabetes: what can be unified and what needs to be individualized? Diabetes Care 2011;34(6):1424-30. doi: 10.2337/dc11-0447. Epub 2011 May 20.