The impact of diabetes and cholesterol on the workplace
The Impact of Diabetes & Cholesterol on the Workforce – Webinar Summary
Diabetes and high cholesterol have far-reaching effects on the workforce. By raising awareness, implementing preventive strategies, and providing necessary support, employers can foster a healthier and more productive work environment. Prioritising employee wellbeing is not only beneficial for individuals but also for the overall success of the organisation.
The webinar panel included Natalie Burrows, founder of Integral Wellness, who specialises in metabolic health and helps introduce initiatives into businesses to prevent and manage metabolic health issues affecting the workforce, and Dr. Kish Vithlani, Medical Director at Qured, who emphasises the importance of early intervention and regular testing in prevention of diabetes and high cholesterol.
Diabetes, a long-term condition characterised by high blood sugar levels, can be classified into two main types. Type 1 diabetes, an autoimmune condition, occurs when the body produces little to no insulin and typically affects children and young adults. Individuals with type 1 diabetes depend on insulin injections for survival. On the other hand, type 2 diabetes accounts for 90% of diabetes cases in the UK and can be prevented and controlled. It develops gradually, with the body's cells becoming less responsive to insulin over time. Pre-diabetes, a condition where blood sugar levels are above the normal range but below the diabetic range, offers an opportunity for early intervention to prevent or delay the onset of diabetes through lifestyle modifications.
Symptoms of diabetes include increased thirst, frequent urination, unexplained weight loss, increased hunger, fatigue, blurred vision, slow-healing wounds, and itching or rashes around the genitals. However, many people with diabetes may not experience noticeable symptoms, underscoring the importance of regular testing.
Various factors contribute to the development of diabetes, including diet, excess sugar consumption, stress, poor sleep, and certain medications. Additionally, individuals with a family history of diabetes, high blood pressure, high waist circumference, or those who are overweight are at a higher risk. People of African, South Asian, and Chinese descent are also more susceptible to diabetes.
The long-term complications of diabetes can impact work and employment significantly. These complications include strokes, heart attacks, heart failure, kidney failure, nerve damage, poor circulation, ulcers, dental problems, and vision impairment. Managing diabetes effectively is crucial for minimising these complications and maintaining a healthy and productive workforce. Individuals with diabetes are more likely to experience mental health issues such as depression, and this can further affect their work performance.
Cholesterol, a waxy substance found in the blood, plays a role in many bodily functions. However, excessive cholesterol levels can lead to health problems. Contrary to popular belief, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) is not entirely "bad cholesterol," and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) is not solely "good cholesterol." The balance between the two is what matters most for health outcomes.
Dietary factors, particularly the consumption of simple carbohydrates, processed foods, red meat, dairy products, and fried foods, can contribute to high cholesterol levels. Conversely, incorporating whole grains, oily fish, fruits, vegetables, and legumes into the diet can help reduce the risk. Other factors that can influence cholesterol levels include genetics, smoking, physical inactivity, certain medications, and chronic conditions such as diabetes, underactive thyroid, kidney disease, liver disease, and stress.
High cholesterol often goes unnoticed as it typically presents with minimal or no symptoms. Regular testing is essential to identify and address elevated cholesterol levels promptly.
If left unaddressed, high cholesterol can lead to complications such as coronary artery disease, stroke, arterial disease, heart failure, dementia, and erectile dysfunction.
The link between type 2 diabetes and high cholesterol lies in the levels of triglycerides (TG) in the blood. TG levels are closely associated with cholesterol levels, and high TG levels can be an early indicator of type 2 diabetes.
Preventing type 2 diabetes and high cholesterol involves lifestyle modifications beyond dietary changes. Increasing muscle mass through physical exercise can improve blood sugar balance. Adequate sleep, stress management, and finding ways to reduce stressors are also important factors.
Addressing the impact of diabetes and high cholesterol on the workforce requires a comprehensive approach. Employers can play a significant role in promoting employee health by implementing initiatives that encourage preventive measures, regular health screenings, and the adoption of healthy lifestyle choices. Early intervention and support for individuals with diabetes or high cholesterol can prevent complications, minimise productivity declines, and create a positive work environment.
The full webinar is available to watch here.
More information on Qured's testing plans, including diabetes and cholesterol, is available here.