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Risk in Focus - Diabetes Mellitus

Posted by Naomi Rosenthal on Thursday, September 22, 2011 Under: Life Insurance
Diabetes Mellitus is defined as a chronic condition that occurs when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin (Type 1) or when the body cannot effectively use the insulin it produces (Type 2). Gestational diabetes refers to diabetes during pregnancy which normally improves or disappears after delivery.
The onset of Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus can occur at an early age and the client would have had diabetes for a number of years by the time insurance is considered. Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus has a much later onset, usually in the late 40s to 50s and may initially only require diet control. With time, oral medication will be needed and insulin may be required.
People with diabetes have a lifelong struggle to achieve and maintain blood glucose levels as close to the normal range as possible.
Diabetes Mellitus causes narrowing and damage of both the small and large blood vessels which has an impact on the whole body leading to complications such as blindness, cataracts, kidney failure, heart disease, hypertension, poor circulation resulting in ulcers or gangrene, and nerve damage resulting in loss of sensation in feet and hands (which can cause injuries). These complications are related to both the duration and the control of diabetes. Other risk factors, such as smoking, will accelerate the development of these complications.
The Statistics
  • The major cause of blindness in adults aged 20-74 years;
  • The leading cause of non-traumatic lower-limb amputation and end-stage kidney disease;
  • Increases the risk of heart attack 2-fold in men and 4-fold in women;
  • Doubles the risk of stroke compared to non-diabetic people;
  • The risk of peripheral vascular disease (poor circulation) is 4 times that of people without diabetes; and
  • Overall, the risk of death is about twice that of people of similar age without diabetes.

Type 1 Diabetes
Can occur at an early age and the client would have had diabetes for a number of years by the time insurance is considered.
Type 2 Diabetes
Later onset, usually in the late 40s –50s and may initially only require diet control.
Gestational Diabetes
About 20-50% of women with gestational diabetes develop Type 2 diabetes later in life.

If you're at risk of developing diabetes, simple lifestyle changes can improve your health and ensure you don't develop the condition.
Exercise helps prevent pre-diabetes and diabetes in two ways: long-term weight loss and long-term weight control.
Exercise works by:

  • Increasing energy expenditure
  • Improving insulin resistance and glucose intolerance. Exercise increases glucose uptake into muscle decreasing the need for insulin production.
  • Reducing intra-abdominal fat
  • Controlling high cholesterol and hypertension – two components of the condition known as metabolic syndrome, which is a pre-cursor to diabetes
  • Having psychologic benefits that help prevent relapse to an unhealthy sedentary lifestyle.

Healthy Eating
Exercise alone may not be sufficient to reduce the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes since it may only produce a modest weight loss. For greatest success, the increase in energy expenditure achieved through physical activity must be matched by a decrease in energy intake through an appropriate change in diet.
Diets rich in unprocessed fibre and whole grain foods and low in saturated fat are associated with lower insulin levels and are protective against cardiovascular disease, stroke and Type 2 diabetes.
Parents and Family
There are some practical ways in which families can work together towards the common goals of healthy eating and getting fit. For example:

  • Parents should support healthy lifestyles at home.
  • Parents and children need positive, realistic approaches to getting fit, and to have answers to questions about healthful lifestyles.
  • Parents need to know about ideas for physical games and activities the family can enjoy together, and provide on-going encouragement to their children.
  • Parents need to be positive and encouraging rather than negative and critical because children are sensitive about their appearance.
  • Eating meals together at home increases the possibility that parents and adolescents will regulate the types and quantities of food eaten.

Medical Checks
Before embarking upon a major lifestyle change such as a significant increase in physical activity, people at risk for diabetes - or those with diabetes already - should consult with their doctor first and get their "all clear to proceed". Your doctor can play an important role in monitoring your health progress and making adjustments to your routine or medications accordingly.

The take home message is that even small increases in physical activity, modest changes in diet and small decreases in weight can reduce diabetes risk factors.

Making positive changes to your diet and physical fitness can mean better insurance outcomes.
What are you doing to improve your health and fitness? We'd love to share your exercise tips, fave healthy recipes or other positive lifestyle actions. Drop us a line at or post on our facebook page
For an insurance review, call us on 02 9417 6011 to schedule your appointment.

Source: AIA Australia (; AsteronLife!: Professor Gordon S.  (


In : Life Insurance 

Tags: diabetes "risk factors" health disease prevention 

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