A charity has urged revellers in Northern Ireland to think twice before reaching for another mince pie or glass of mulled wine over the festive |season.
Diabetes UK says eating and drinking sugar-laden treats over the Christmas period can not only add inches to our waistline but could also cause Type 2 diabetes.
There are 62,000 diagnosed diabetes sufferers in Northern Ireland and a further 20,000 people are believed to have the condition — which can lead to heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, blindness and amputation — but do not know it.
Over-indulgence in too many calorific treats such as mince pies (around 200 calories each), Christmas cake (approximately 250 calories per slice) and mulled wine (about 250 calories in a glass) could leave us all struggling to buckle our belts in the New Year.
Having a large waist means you are eleven times more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes and being overweight or obese is one of the strongest risk factors for developing Type 2 diabetes, according to the charity.
Director of Diabetes UK Northern Ireland, Iain Foster, said: “The Type 2 diabetes epidemic is one of the biggest health challenges facing the UK today.
“Watching our waistlines at this time of year is vital as we all need to do our best to reduce our chances of developing this often preventable condition.
“It is important to remember that around 80% of people with Type 2 diabetes are overweight at diagnosis.
“There are around 20,000 people in Northern Ireland unaware they have diabetes. The condition can be undiagnosed for up to 12 years and 50% of people who have it show signs of complications at diagnosis.
“The sooner diabetes is diagnosed and becomes well managed, the better your long-term health is protected and the lower your risk of developing devastating complications.”
At risk waist measurements are 31.5 inches (80cm) or more for women, 37 inches (94cm) or more for men and 35 inches (90cm) or more for South Asian men.
As well as having a large waist, people are more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes if they are overweight, over the age of 40, of Black or South Asian origin, or have a family history of Type 2 diabetes.
If a person has two or more of these risk factors, Diabetes UK recommend they visit their GP for a simple diabetes test.
Figures released by the Northern Ireland Executive in November indicate that 60% of adults in Northern Ireland have a weight problem and as many as one in five are obese.
Statistics from 2006/07 show that approximately 22% of Northern Ireland's primary school children are classed as overweight and obese.
Recent research found most people perceive themselves to be slimmer than they really are.
When 500 people were asked to estimate their waist size, most under-estimated by an average of 2.7 inches.
Men were said to be the most deluded and underestimated their waist size by a significant 3.1 inches (7.9 cm), while the estimates of South Asian women were generally the most accurate.
To reduce your risk of Type 2 diabetes, Diabetes UK recommends you should eat a healthy balanced diet, maintain a healthy weight and be physically active.
Even a moderate degree of physical activity can reduce your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes by up to 64%. Similarly, if you reduce your weight by between five and 10 per cent you reduce your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes by up to 58%.
To find out more visit |www.diabetes.org.uk/measure-up