Press release

Diabetes expert warns of the dangers of festive weight gain

Published on 29 November 2021

It may be a time of indulgence, but Scots are being urged to keep an eye on their calorie intake and offset second helpings with exercise to stop them receiving the unwanted gift of type 2 diabetes this Christmas.

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Professor Calum Sutherland, an expert in the condition at the University of Dundee’s School of Medicine, says that more people need to be aware of the causes of type 2 diabetes and its potentially deadly effects.

He was speaking ahead of a major public event to mark the centenary of the discovery of insulin, a hormone crucial in preventing the disease. Organised by Diabetes Scotland and hosted by the University of Dundee, Why have I got diabetes?, a free, online seminar, takes place on Wednesday 1 December from 6 – 8pm.

With the links between poor lifestyle choices and type 2 diabetes well-established, Professor Sutherland is urging Scots to give their long-term health some consideration ahead of the party season.

“While the festive season is a time of celebration, it is important that we are aware of the health problems that develop due to weight gain,” said Professor Sutherland.

“Many people do not recognise how dangerous type 2 diabetes is and how easy it can be to adopt the unhealthy habits that facilitate it. That is why, as we celebrate a century since the discovery of insulin, we would like to re-emphasise the health problems that come with diabetes.

“I would urge people to offset any over-indulgence and exercise moderately for at least two to three hours a week.

“While weight gain does not instantly cause type 2 diabetes to develop, preventing it is the most effective thing you can do to protect yourself from developing the condition later in life.”

An incurable condition, more than 4.7 million people in the UK live with diabetes, with figures having trebled since 1996. Type 1 diabetes affects more than 31,000 Scots and is caused by the body attacking the pancreas, which produces the insulin required to prevent blood glucose levels reaching extreme levels.

Type 2 diabetes is more prevalent and can be affected by lifestyle habits, with the body unable to produce enough, or effective, insulin to regulate blood sugar levels.

Complications arising from diabetes can include heart and kidney disease, and it is also the biggest cause of blindness and amputation in the UK.

Based within the University’s School of Medicine, Dr Sutherland’s laboratory is at the forefront of diabetes research and has contributed to the understanding of how insulin works to keep sugar and fat from damaging the organs in the body.

Diabetes Scotland is hosting several events to mark the centenary of the discovery of insulin, a breakthrough made in Canada in 1921. One of the three men behind the breakthrough was Professor John Macleod, from Perthshire, who received the 1923 Nobel prize in Physiology or Medicine for his role in the discovery.

“Diabetes was effectively a death sentence before the discovery of insulin,” added Professor Sutherland.

“That is why it is important that we celebrate the significance of this anniversary and the countless lives it has saved. It is also an important reminder of how serious a condition diabetes remains to this day, and why people must continue to take it seriously.”

Why have I got diabetes?, takes place online on Wednesday 1 December from 6 – 8pm. Attendance is free but registration must be completed in advance online.


Jonathan Watson

Senior Press Officer

+44 (0)1382 381489