Diabetes is one of the most imminent threats to the health of South Africans. According to sweetlife.org, 1 in 3 South Africans who have tested their blood sugar are pre-diabetic.

While being pre-diabetic means you are at high risk of developing diabetes, you can still turn things around. 

If there is one thing the world reaction to COVID-19 has shown us, it is that we can make drastic changes to our lifestyles to protect ourselves from illness. 

Sweet Life Diabetes Community, supported by Allegra through their health information exchange, offer a picture of the extent of diabetes in SA and how we can act  to minimise complications and unnecessary medical costs.

Related:10 Ways to reduce type 2 diabetes

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What is pre-diabetes?

The World Health Organisation (WHO) considers blood glucose levels of below 5.5mmol/l to be normal: those of 7mmol/l and above are considered diabetic. Between these two cut-off points lies the pre-diabetic range: 5.5 to 7mmol/l.

 The good news? If you have pre-diabetes, you can make diet and lifestyle changes that will bring your blood sugar levels back to the normal range. This dramatically reduces the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. But only if you know you have it!

Can I prevent diabetes?

According to WHO, 80% of cases of diabetes, 80% of heart disease and 40% of cancer could be prevented by avoiding tobacco, increasing physical activity and adopting a healthy diet. It is globally recognised that, in the case of NCDs (Non-Communicable Diseases) and especially diabetes, prevention through lifestyle changes is critical and cost-effective.

Finding out you have pre-diabetes is a gift, it is a warning that your body needs some help to prevent a chronic condition.

Related: The difference between type one and type two diabetes 

 Diabetes and COVID-19

According to Stats SA diabetes kills more South African woman than any other cause of death. This alone should make controlling diabetes and testing for it regularly a priority, however, having diabetes increases your risk for COVID-19. The death rate is higher among those who have diabetes, obesity and hypertension. So the fact that at least a third of our population has pre-diabetes with no knowledge of it means that we are at greater risk of more serious COVID-19 cases.

Find out more about living well with diabetes by visiting Sweet Life on www.sweetlife.org.za or Diabetic South Africans on Facebook.

Related: Why people with diabetes have an increased risk of cancer 

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While All4Women endeavours to ensure health articles are based on scientific research, health articles should not be considered as a replacement for professional medical advice. Should you have concerns related to this content, it is advised that you discuss them with your personal healthcare provider.