Professor in diabetes and endocrinology at the University of Southampton, Richard Holt, said, “Over the last few decades, the number of new cases has been increasing dramatically as a result of the obesity epidemic, low levels of physical activity and changes in dietary patterns. Type 2 diabetes is a condition which occurs more commonly in older people and so the ageing population has also increased the numbers of new cases”.

Almost a quarter of the world's population, up from fourteen percent last year, will be obese in less than thirty years according to recent research. People with type 2 diabetes have an average life expectancy of just fifty-five years due to being at a much higher risk of heart attacks, stroke and kidney disease.

For the next few months, East Algarve Walking Football will be raising funds and awareness in respect of diabetes. The main differences between type 1 and type 2 diabetes are:-

People with type 1 diabetes do not produce insulin, which regulates glucose levels, for which there is no cure so insulin must be regularly administered.

Those with type 2 diabetes have a serious condition where the insulin produced by the pancreas does not work properly, or the pancreas cannot make enough insulin. More importantly, type 2 diabetes can be controlled and even reversed with diet and exercise. Roy Clark, a retired Police Officer and keen walking footballer who has type 1 diabetes, is spearheading the campaign by EAWF and is happy to pass on his experience in helping to explain some symptoms of type 1 diabetes: “I was a member of a Police search team working at a major Political Party Conference and working away from home for two weeks on shifts of twelve hours on and twelve hours off. Whilst off duty we spent a lot of time drinking, little eating and very little sleep. I was finding myself increasingly thirsty, frequently going to the toilet - which I attributed to the fact I was drinking excessively - to quench my thirst.

“My tiredness, I believed was due to lack of sleep but a bonus was, or so I thought, that I was losing weight. In addition I noticed my eyesight was deteriorating. After my fortnight’s stint I relaxed at home but felt no better so consulted my doctor who had me urgently admitted to hospital where I spent the next three weeks before they stabilised my blood sugars.

“My eyesight was restored to normal. On enquiring about my symptoms I was informed that when untreated the sugar in the blood is literally turned to treacle thus stopping the blood flow through the smallest blood vessels to eyes, feet and toes hence blindness and amputations being common amongst diabetics.”

Walking football’s ethos of fitness, fun and friendship can help raise awareness and support those with type 2 diabetes. The sport is a valuable tool in fighting and reversing this chronic illness. As Kate, a recent recruit to Walking Football, said, “I am type 1 and enjoy walking football. It took a while to get my blood sugars right but pretty good now and reducing insulin instead of eating more carbohydrates. Walking Football is great fun and the exercise is brilliant. Love that EAWF is raising awareness of diabetes and the benefits of exercise. I’m 69 and been type 1 for thirty-six years. Feel so much better thanks to walking football.”

To help kick-start this campaign, health care professionals from Algarve Health and Social Care will be on hand to carry out simple finger-prick blood tests at walking football sessions at the José Arcanjo Stadium, Olhão (behind McDonalds on the EN125) on Tuesday, 8 and Thursday, 10 October from 9.30am to 11.30am and at the astro-turf pitch adjoining the Dr. Eduardo Mansinho Sports Hall, Av. Zeca Afonso, Tavira on Wednesday, 9 and Friday, 11 October from 9.30am to 11.30am There are players who already have diabetes and others who have close family members with diabetes, who will be on hand and happy to discuss their own experiences, how this impacts on their life and, perhaps more importantly, explain and assist with how it is dealt with in the UK and what you need to do to be provided with similar health care in Portugal.

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The simple test takes less than 30 seconds, and will indicate a reading of your current blood sugar levels. It is a reasonable gauge of your levels but not as precise as a full fasting blood test.

The tests will be carried out discreetly and people’s confidentiality will be respected. The test will be carried out for free or a small donation would be much appreciated to help raise more funds for diabetes research.

Wives, partners and members of the public are also welcome to come along and take advantage of this opportunity. Future events and information regarding the campaign will be published periodically at: