Know Your Risk Roadshow – by Andy Broomhead

Last week, the Diabetes UK Know Your Risk Roadshow came to Sheffield for two days, so I thought I’d give a bit of an insight into what the Roadshow is all about, and how things go on the day.

As you probably know, the number of people with diabetes in the UK is now over 4 million, and around 90% (over 3.6 million) have Type 2 diabetes.  Not all cases of Type 2 diabetes are preventable, but a large proportion (about 80%) can have their onset delayed or prevented.

The Roadshow bus on Friday morning

The Know Your Risk Roadshow aims to help people understand their possible risk of developing Type 2 diabetes over the next 10 years, and then help identify what (if any) interventions may go some way to reducing that risk.

The process involves taking a person’s height, weight, waist measurement, and then asking six additional questions, before you arrive at a Risk Score.  It’s a scientific score, developed in partnership with the University of Leicester, but it’s important to note that it isn’t a diagnosis in anyway.  It only looks at potential risk over a 10 year period.

People taking part get given a risk score that puts them into one of four categories:

  • Low Risk – around 1 in 20 people in this category go on to develop Type 2 diabetes in the next 10 years
  • Increased Risk – around 1 in 10 people
  • Moderate Risk – around 1 in 7 people and
  • High Risk – around 1 in 3 people

The overall score is based on the answers to the seven questions (six plus waist measurement) that each person is asked.  Four of those questions are non-modifiable (that is, things individuals can’t do anything about) – age, gender, ethnicity and family history.  The other three questions focus on modifiable behaviours (BMI, waist measurement and blood pressure).

It’s worth noting at this stage you could be an individual with a moderate risk of developing Type 2 diabetes purely based on the non-modifiable factors. If you’re an elderly man, from a non-white European background with a family history of diabetes, you’re likely to be in the upper risk categories, regardless of the other factors.  What the Roadshow is trying to do is identify that risk for everyone, and then appropriately direct those with the opportunity to make some changes to lower their risk in the future.  These distinctions were something we explained to people at the time.

The Sheffield Group had funded this Roadshow as part of our fundraising work over the last 12 months.  You can find your nearest upcoming roadshow via the Diabetes UK website.  We had a number of trained volunteers able to help people find out their Risk, as well as a number of volunteers from our local group, talking about what we offer locally.  We targeted seeing 105 people on each day, and managed to beat that, seeing 120 people on both the Friday and Saturday – 55% of those we saw were at moderate or high risk.

We had a dietician, James, on hand to give out advice on healthy eating and portion sizes, as well as having some great recipe cards for people to take away.  James was also keen on promoting exercise and activity and was happy to share some of his experiences with the general public.  The Roadshow comes with its own exercise area, with a fixed bike, hula hoops and step to encourage people to become more active.  Our volunteers were showcasing this on both days and it really seemed to motivate people to come and try it out themselves – it was very popular with kids too, who had a few friendly competitions between themselves.

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James the dietician

The Lord Mayor came down on the Friday to see the Roadshow, get his own Risk score, try out the exercise area and he took away some information from the dietcian too.  Sheffield MP Clive Betts came along as well, so it was great to see this being promoted and taken seriously locally.  We also had our group mascot Leopold there for some of the second day which the public also seemed to engage with.

Lord Mayor Talib Hussain with volunteer Claire

The feedback from the public was really encouraging.  Those in the higher risk groups were keen to find out what they could do, and what symptoms they should potentially look out for in the future.

I think everyone took something positive away from their experience, whether it was reassurance of finding out they were low risk, or that they had the opportunity to make changes to their lifestyle going forwards.

Many also mentioned how good it was to be raising awareness on such a large scale in the city centre.  All the volunteers I spoke to had a good time too which is always good to hear.

The Lord Mayor with some of the Roadshow volunteers

The Roadshow is an important part of what Diabetes UK offers and does a lot to help raise awareness of diabetes in general (as well as allowing the opportunity to differentiate between Type 1 and Type 2).

If you have a roadshow near you, I’d really encourage you to go along, either to find out more or to volunteer.  It’s a great experience that you’re bound to benefit from.

On a personal note, I’d like to thank the Roadshow team and all the volunteers for making the event such a success – they really made it a great few days!

Find out when your local know your risk roadshow is coming to you

If you can’t make a roadshow, take the Diabetes UK online risk score

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