International Diabetes Federation

International Diabetes Federation

International Diabetes Federation

Author Paul Hollinrake, Researcher & Trainer in Public Health/14 November 2018

Today is World Diabetes Day and the theme for 2018-19 is The Family and Diabetes.  The aim of the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) is to develop materials and implement actions over the course of two years, which include:

Raising awareness of the impact that diabetes has on the family and the support network.
To promote the role the family has in the management, care and education of diabetes.

Diabetes prevalence

There are over 425 million people who are currently living with diabetes, of which most are type 2. Through healthy lifestyle interventions diabetes is largely preventable. This includes addressing diet, sleep, physical activity, stress reduction and maintaining a healthy body weight. Other factors include  stopping smoking and reducing alcohol. Families have an obvious role to play here through role modelling and social support to encourage healthy living. This can be facilitated through education programmes and resources.

Early detection

It is imperative that families are aware of the signs, symptoms and risk factors for all types of diabetes as this will help in early diagnosis. It is estimated that one in two people currently living with type 2 diabetes is undiagnosed.

Signs and symptoms

Feelings of tiredness.
More frequent urination.
Increased thirst.
More regular, or longer lasting infections.
Rapid weight loss can be a sign of Type 1 diabetes.

Several risk factors are associated with type 2 diabetes.

The family history of diabetes.
Unhealthy diet.
Physical inactivity.
Increasing age.
High blood pressure.
Impaired glucose tolerance (IGT).
History of gestational diabetes.
Poor nutrition during pregnancy.


Having family support in diabetes care has shown to have a positive effect. Worldwide less than one in four family members have access to effective diabetes education programmes. It is important for diabetes self-management that all people with diabetes and their families have access to good quality education.

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