World Diabetes Day takes place tomorrow (Thursday 14 November) and ahead of this we are excited to share the following case study, which details how Cumbrian patient Paul Hurst took steps to lead a healthier lifestyle to avoid developing type 2 diabetes.

Having had his fair share of health issues in recent years, Paul Hurst’s fighting spirit was not in the least bit diminished when a blood test revealed he was at high risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. He met the challenge head on and just 10 months later, and with support from his local Healthier You diabetes prevention service, sport-lover Paul has lost weight; reduced his blood sugar level; and is inspiring other family members to follow in his tracks.

Paul, 55 and from Cleator Moor in Whitehaven, had a long-standing career and actively enjoyed a variety of sports before spine damage led him to medically retire aged 52. Subsequently diagnosed with bipolar disorder and experiencing numerous health challenges including liver surgery, Paul’s weight crept up to 120kg as his actively levels lowered.

“I blamed my medication when my weight started to increase, but realistically I was comfort eating and a lot less active; it’s easily done,” said Paul. “When my GP told me my blood test showed a worrying trend towards diabetes it gave me the prompt I needed. I hadn’t been beaten so far, and diabetes wasn’t going to either!”

Paul was referred by his GP to the Healthier You programme, an NHS England initiative run locally by health provider Ingeus. He attended the 10-month insight programme at Whitehaven Sports Centre where Ingeus educators, including Nina Albertelli, helped Paul make positive changes to his diet and activity levels. Many cases of Type 2 diabetes can be prevented by adopting a healthy lifestyle and Paul put his new-found knowledge to good use: losing almost 20kg in weight so far, reducing his HbA1c blood sugar level from 42 to 36 and now swimming a mile each day.

“It was an eye-opener learning about the effects of different foods on our bodies,” Paul continues. “I reprogrammed myself on how to eat and how much to eat. This isn’t a quick-hit diet, what I’ve learned has changed my eating habits for good.

“Being with like-minded people in the group motivated me and helped me share tips and challenges. I realised that even with my spine damage, an active life is still possible. I feel so much better for losing weight and it’s had an incredibly positive effect on my mental health too. It’s the best course I’ve ever done.”

Ingeus is one of the health service providers that delivers Healthier You in the region.

One of their health educators, Nina Albertelli said: “Paul has most definitely taken the advice to reduce his risk of Type 2 diabetes on board. His weight loss is terrific and, importantly, he has embedded new routines into his lifestyle that have now become second nature. Relatively simple changes can bring about huge benefits and Healthier You has enabled Paul to take back control of his health with more activity and a better diet. He’s well on the way to a happier, healthier future and I am really proud to have been part of his journey.”

Dr Amanda Boardman, a GP in Cumbria said: “There are a number of risk factors that can be associated with Type 2 diabetes, but the most influential of these are lifestyle behaviours such as eating unhealthy foods and being inactive.

“Paul’s story is fantastic for highlighting that these are factors that individuals have the power to take control of themselves, and by taking steps to improve their diet and by engaging in physical exercise for at least 30-45 minutes, three to five days a week, they can dramatically reduce their risk of developing the condition.”

Paul’s bipolar disorder is now managed with low level medication and he’s enjoying retirement with wife Anita. Paul’s experience has also empowered him to speak to other family members whose lifestyles he feels may potentially put them at risk of Type 2.

Diabetes can cause serious long-term health problems. Simple action can reduce the risk; 80% of Type 2 diabetes cases are preventable. *

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