In honour of Diabetes Prevention Week, Kimberley Dondo finds out what employers can do to help with the prevention of type 2 diabetes
Now more than ever employers are invested in finding new ways to support the overall health and wellbeing of their employees. Diabetes Prevention week poses an opportunity for innovative strategies employers can introduce to reduce the prevalence of type 2 diabetes.
One such initiative is Walk@Work scheme. Similar to Bike2Work, they hope to get 10 million office workers across the UK off their chairs and on the move but while they are working. The scheme involves a task as simple as leaving your desk for a few minutes every hour in order to lap the building or using an under-desk treadmill for bigger distances.
“Employers may be concerned about the distraction of walking and working”, says Office Fitness owner Paul Matthews, “however, numerous studies and our own findings have found the reverse is true due to the energising effect of movement. Move for a few minutes and it can have a reviving effect for the next hour. We think it’s the body’s way of telling you to keep moving.”
According to the British Heart Foundation, more than 20 million people in the UK are physically inactive. This sedentary lifestyle increases the risk of heart disease, obesity and type 2 diabetes.
The reason why so many workers are inactive may be down to time constraints or an aversion to going to the gym. In this instance, companies could set up simple activities such as running clubs or football leagues to get staff moving.
In fact, the MAN v FAT Football campaign was set up for exactly that reason. The campaign aims to raise awareness of the Healthier You: NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme (NDPP), increase programme referrals and encourage members of the public to be more aware of the symptoms of type 2 diabetes.
Many players in the leagues have been referred there by their GP due to having health issues. Andy Webb is a player who has managed to reverse type 2 diabetes playing football the MAN v FAT way, and now leads a healthier lifestyle. He comments: “Being diagnosed with Diabetes came at a time my wife was fighting cancer. I couldn’t get any lower, what more could go wrong? After my wife passed away in 2011, my symptoms worsened as I was not looking after myself. In June 2017, I was diagnosed with a liver tumour. My first thought was for my 4 boys, they were not going to become orphans. At this point, I weighed 126kg. Joining MAN v FAT started my journey to losing weight.”
“Within 9 months I have reversed type 2 diabetes, lost 27kg in fat and competed in the Reebok CrossFit championships, I feel like a new person. I have my life back and now fitness training plays a huge part in my day to day activities.”
RedArc Nurses have also thrown their hat into the ring by running a pilot to help people with type 2 diabetes to manage their condition better. They have teamed up with Mapmydiabetes, a NICE-endorsed online programme designed to support diabetes self-management education. Mapmydiabetes provides the technological support, and RedArc backs this up with the human touch.
Christine Husbands, managing director of RedArc Nurses, says: “The potential of this pilot is huge. There’s no doubt that technology has an increasingly important role to play in encouraging better health behaviours. Combining this with the support of a registered nurse takes this to a whole other level. Insurers are investing seriously in technology and we’ll be excited to share the results of this pilot to demonstrate the difference it makes when combined with the support of our nurses. Reduction in claims is one potential outcome, but that’s just one aspect. As insurers look to offer a more holistic service, this helps them do just that, and with measurable outcomes.”
Introducing programmes like lunchtime yoga, simple deskercises and stretches could boost employee fitness and productivity.