‘People in their 30s could be developing diabetes and should cut carbs’

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Most people in their 30s could unknowingly be on the way to developing diabetes and should consider cutting carbohydrates out of their diets, an expert has warned.

Professor Joan Taylor, from De Montfort University, said NHS guidance which currently says carbohydrates should make up just over a third of what we eat should be changed to around 10%.

Speaking at the British Science Festival, she said that cutting food like bread and potatoes could result in people losing weight – a good thing for reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes – and their glucose levels returning to normal.

The professor of pharmaceutics said: “If you can cut it down to 10%, bearing in mind that the NHS recommendation is about 35%, if you can cut it down to 10% then not only will you lose weight, which is a good thing for metabolic syndrome and type 2, but your blood glucose comes down to normal.”

According to Diabetes UK, in 2021 some 4.1 million people were living with a diagnosis of any type of diabetes, and an additional 850,000 had type 2 diabetes but were yet to be diagnosed.



If you talk to diabetologists, they will tell you that most people from their 30s onwards… are beginning to put on the kind of weight these days that means then moving into the metabolic syndrome, that then is a route to diabetes

Professor Joan Taylor, De Montfort University

However, Prof Taylor thinks as many as one in 10 people could be developing diabetes without knowing it.

She said: “If you talk to diabetologists, they will tell you that most people from their 30s onwards, particularly if they’re Bame (Black, Asian and minority ethnic), but even so, are beginning to put on the kind of weight these days that means then moving into the metabolic syndrome, that then is a route to diabetes.

“Most people are at risk.

“It’s only the slim, athletic types that stay like that into their 30s and 40s that are not.

“That’s an amazing thing, really.”

Metabolic syndrome is the medical term for a combination of diabetes, high blood pressure (hypertension) and obesity.

Diabetes UK reports that, if nothing changes, 5.5 million people in the UK will have diabetes by 2030.

The charity estimates that one in three adults in the UK have pre-diabetes, which means their blood glucose levels are above normal but below the threshold for a diabetes diagnosis.

Around 90% of people with diabetes have type 2, around 8% have type 1 diabetes, and about 2% have rarer types of diabetes.

NHS England suggests the service spends around £10 billion a year on diabetes – around 10% of its entire budget.

Research has shown that, for some people, diet, physical activity and sustained weight loss can be effective in reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes by about 50%.

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