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. Although today and the month of November is dedicated to awareness, the campaign is set to run until 2019. This two-year time frame has been chosen to allow time to be able to develop, promote and increase participation. 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 such as addressing diet, sleep, physical activity, stress reduction and maintaining a healthy body weight as well as other factors such as stopping smoking and reducing alcohol, diabetes is largely preventable. 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 have been associated with type 2 diabetes and include:

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

You can find out more about risk factors and use the online calculator to test your risk. Always seek advice from your doctor if you are concerned about any signs/symptoms or risk factors.


Having family support in diabetes care has been shown to have a positive effect. Worldwide less than one in four family members have access to effective diabetes education programmes. It is therefore important for diabetes self-management that all people with diabetes and their families have access to good quality education such as those delivered by XPERT, this can be delivered via group based or digital programmes which can also provide important emotional support and motivation.

View the IDF campaign resources here and find out how you can help spread the word about diabetes in November and for the rest of 2018-19. #WDD2018

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