Saga launches an online tool to help people assess and manage their risk of developing diabetes, today (3 October 2007). After smoking, diabetes is the UK's biggest preventable cause of premature death and disability*. Type 2 diabetes, if left unmanaged could lead to an increased risk of heart attack, stroke, kidney failure, blindness and circulation problems in the legs which may lead to amputation.
Saga undertook a survey of some 16,000 people aged over 50, which showed that despite its prevalence the disease's symptoms remain largely unknown. Saga teamed up with the Oxford Centre for Diabetes, Endocrinology and Metabolism (OCDEM), internationally acclaimed experts in diabetes to develop a simple to use online diabetes diagnostic tool.
This has been specifically designed to give an indication of your state of health and risk of developing Type 2 diabetes and suggests some simple steps individuals can take to prevent type 2 diabetes. The tool is available at saga.co.uk/health
The Saga survey revealed that:
* a third did not recognise common symptoms of Type 2 diabetes, including fatigue (32%) and increased thirst (39%)
* over half (52%) were unaware that age is a contributing risk factor
* over a quarter (28%) mistakenly believed that weight gain was a symptom
Women were found to have better general awareness of symptoms. About a half more women correctly identified an increased need to urinate as a symptom (65% of women compared to 44% of men) and twice as many women identified hard to heal skin infections (38% of women compared to 19% of men).
Overall 8% of the over 50s questioned said that they suffered from Type 2 diabetes, this varied by age – rising from 5% of those aged 50-54, to one in ten of those over 60. Nevertheless, this is likely to be a significant underestimate given the general ignorance about the warning signs of the onset of type 2 diabetes.
Saga Chief Executive Andrew Goodsell said: "The online tool has been developed specifically for people aged over 50, an age group that is particularly vulnerable to diabetes. By filling in a few details it is possible to generate an immediate health check and tips on making lifestyle improvements that will help many people live healthier lives."
Professor David Matthews from OCDEM said: "Diabetes remains largely hidden because many people do not recognise the early warning signs and are not aware that there are simple steps that will minimise their risk."
Additional results showed that if diagnosed with diabetes, 93% would seek treatment from their GP. GPs cannot prescribe a miracle cure for Type 2 diabetes, instead a combination of healthy diet and exercise will help reduce the risk of developing diabetes.
Notes to Editors-
*The Oxford Centre for Diabetes, Endocrinology and Metabolism (OCDEM), internationally acclaimed experts in diabetes, have recently claimed that some 2.5 million people will be affected in the UK by diabetes by 2010 and around half of them will die from diabetes-related conditions unless urgent action is taken
**The Saga / Populus Panel is the largest panel of over 50s in the UK. This survey took place between 3rd and 14th August and 15,740 people responded.
Dr Saga is an online health resource that enables people to research the symptoms and treatments for common conditions; search for a consultant that is right for you; find a complementary therapist near you and find the best hospital care for your condition. Dr Saga can be found at www.saga.co.uk/health
OCDEM is an internationally-renowned centre which combines clinical care, research and education in diabetes, endocrine and metabolic diseases. By promoting world-class research, it aims to enhance understanding of these diseases and conditions and to accelerate the search for new treatments and cures.
For further press information please contact the Saga Press Office on: 01303 771529.