TYPE two diabetes has been labelled as one of the greatest health problems of modern times. In the UK, there are currently over four million people living with the condition, and an estimated 500,000 who haven’t been diagnosed but are suffering the consequences of raised blood sugars.

In type one diabetes the pancreas stops producing insulin and the sufferer becomes rapidly ill over days to a few weeks. It cannot be ignored and without aggressive treatment, the person may die.

However in type two, blood sugar levels can be borderline raised for a long time, sometimes with few if any symptoms.

While type two diabetes was previously seen as a disease of advancing years, its rise in the younger age group has mirrored the increasing number of people categorised as overweight or obese.

The hormone insulin, produced by the pancreas, controls the level of sugars in the blood. Although sufficient amounts of insulin are produced initially, if you are overweight, it sits in your fat rather than the bloodstream.

Here it is less active, a state sometimes referred to as insulin resistance.

Raised levels of sugars in the blood damage both the walls of the blood vessels themselves as well as your nerves.

DIABETES is one of the leading causes of heart attack, stroke, amputation, kidney disease and blindness.

Symptoms of diabetes include excess thirst, fatigue beyond normal tiredness, weight loss, blurred vision and recurrent infections, particularly genital thrush. You may get some of these, or perhaps none initially.

Pre-diabetes is the stage before diabetes, where your sugars are raised, yet not enough to classify you as diabetic.

Importantly you may have no symptoms whatsoever. Every year five to ten per cent of those with pre-diabetes go on to develop type two diabetes itself.

The initial treatment for type two is often tablet medication, however as the disease progresses, you may need insulin itself.

While this is a very worrying prospect, research has shown that a healthy lifestyle can reduce your chances of pre-diabetes becoming actual diabetes. Losing just seven per cent of your body weight may be all that is needed to halt the situation.

Certain people will be at higher risk of developing pre and actual type two diabetes, including those of south Asian origin, and if you have a first degree relative with the condition.

If you are worried about pre-diabetes, or indeed you think you may have the symptoms of type two diabetes, a blood test measuring either your blood glucose or your sugar control over the last three months will shed light on the situation. This can be done in your routine GP surgery.

Many solutions have been put forward for how you can prevent pre-diabetes becoming type two diabetes, including reducing your calorie count to 800 per day, or intermittent fasting, sometimes known as the 5:2 diet.

Pick something that you think you can stick at, and if in doubt, ask for help. There is never any need to go it alone.