BROTHERS Gary and Donald Embling paid a high price for their sweet tooth and rich diets as they both developed Type 2 diabetes.
Now on a much more wholesome path paved with healthy eating and regular exercise, the pair are urging others to look after themselves before it is too late, during Diabetes Awareness Week.
The diagnosis came as a complete shock to retired farmers Gary, 70, and Donald, 76, from Wroughton, who never imagined their bad habits and lack of physical exercise would have an irreversible impact on their health.
Gary discovered he had the condition at the age of 52, after he suddenly became extremely thirsty.
“I woke up one morning and kept drinking, but the thirst didn’t go away. I went to the doctor, who was pretty sure what it was and the test confirmed Type 2 diabetes. I take tablets every day, eat a balanced diet and take a lot more exercise, mainly walking for around a couple of hours a day, but we stop for a rest. I also do the gardening and housework. It seems to do the trick. Every time I go for a check-up, the green lights come on.
“In hindsight, I abused my body over many years and paid the price. I added heaps of sugar to everything – tea, cereal and even desserts, without realising the damage I was doing. I’m lucky because my diabetes was caught early and I can manage the condition, But I would definitely do things differently if I had my time again and just hope more people now are aware of the dangers.
“I don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything – it’s all about making the right choices and portion control. I look back and think what a fool I’ve been, but you don’t think about it at the time.”
Type 2 diabetes develops when the insulin-producing cells in the body are unable to produce enough insulin, or when the insulin that is produced does not work properly.
Being overweight or obese and physical inactivity are among the main risk factors for developing Type 2 diabetes. Since diagnosis, Gary has shed three stone and transformed his diet.
Donald’s diagnosis two years ago was also unexpected.
He said: “I went for a health check, thinking everything was fine, but my blood sugar levels were too high. I take tablets and the regular walking with Gary along with a better diet all works well and keeps it under control.
“Apart from the odd biscuit or cake, I stick to the same wholesome things and it’s still very tasty. You can’t beat walking every day out in the fresh air. Fifty years working on a farm has taken its toll on my knees but I keep plodding on and feel pretty good.”
Around six per cent of the Swindon adult population has some form of diabetes, the majority being Type 2.
To be tested for diabetes, book a free NHS health check by contacting your GP or SEQOL on 01793 465543. To find out more about diabetes and for advice on managing the condition visit www.diabetes.org.uk