As the World Diabetes Day is coming soon, it is a good idea to remind everyone the symptoms of diabetes  , what prediabetes is and when we should get tested.

More and more Poles suffer from overweight and obesity

We consume more and more products rich in sugar. As a result, in 2017 we ate a whopping 6.1 kg more sugar per person than in 2008. As a society, we are also rapidly gaining weight, one in four Poles is already obese. All of this leads to dysregulation of the body and finally to diabetes.

Data shows that in 2016, the 20+ age group in Poland, 53% of women and 68% of men were overweight, while 23% of women and 25% of men were obese. For those under 20, 20% of girls and 31% of boys were overweight, and 5% of girls and 13% of boys were obese. A person, whose death can be linked to consuming sugar-sweetened beverages, lives on average 15 years less than the average lifespan for his/her age. It is also estimated that nearly 1,400 deaths in Poland per year are due to the consequences of excessive consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages1.

The number of people with diabetes is growing

In 2018, there were 2.9 million adults with diabetes, meaning that one in 11 adults had the disease. This, of course, refers to people who have been diagnosed. Meanwhile, some people have a pre-diabetic state (i.e. a fasting blood glucose level of 100-125 mg/dl in a blood test) or do not know they have diabetes.

The World Diabetes Federation (IDF 2019)2 estimates that diabetes affects 6-7% of the Polish population aged 20-79 years. In Europe, 1 in 11 adults already has diabetes and in the next 25 years the proportion of sufferers will increase by another 15%. Data shows that 1 in 3 people worldwide may have prediabetes, which makes these individuals prone to develop diabetes in the future (1/4 will develop diabetes within 3-5 years)3.

What are the symptoms of diabetes?

Most people with prediabetes are unaware of the risk. Therefore, it is a good idea to pay attention to symptoms that may indicate the onset of the disease:

The main symptoms indicating the possibility of diabetes with significant hyperglycemia include4:

– increased diuresis (polyuria);

– increased thirst;

– Weight loss that cannot be explained by intended weight reduction;

However, we should also pay attention to less typical symptoms such as5:

– fatigue and somnolence

– purulent skin lesions and inflammation of genitourinary organs

– chapped lips, a symptom affecting even up to 70% of people with diabetes

– a characteristic sweet, fruity odour can be noticed in our breath but also in our urine

– frequent headaches (caused by inadequate hydration)

– deterioration of vision, blurry  vision

– Tingling, numbness, or pain in the hands or feet

– hair loss, poorer hair condition

– Slow healing of wounds and more frequent bruising of the skin

Remember to perfom testing

What do we do then? You should remember about regular testings. Who should be tested:

– all subjects > 45 years of age should check fasting blood glucose level every 3 years

–  annually regardless of age overweight or obese subjects (

(BMI) ≥ 25 kg/m2 and/or waist circumference >

80 cm (women) or > 94 cm (men

——Subjects with a family history of diabetes (in parents

or siblings

–  all subjects with hypertension, cardiovascular diseases, gestational diabetes, dyslipidemia or polycystic ovary syndrome

Test results

What should particularly worry us? The current criteria for diagnosis of diabetes according to the Polish Diabetes Society 20216 are as follows:

Random  blood glucose7

  1. >200 mg/dl (11.1 mmol/l) – diabetes (when symptoms of hyperglycemia are present, such as increased thirst, polyuria, fatigue)
  2. Fasting blood glucose8
  3. 70-99 mg/dl (3.9-5.5 mmol/l) – normal fasting blood glucose (NFG)
  4. 100-125 mg/dl (5.6-6.9 mmol/l) – abnormal fasting blood glucose (IFG)
  5. ≥126 mg/dl (7.0 mmol/l) – diabetes
  6. Blood glucose at 120 minutes during an oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) according to WHO9
  7. normal glucose tolerance
  8. 140-199 mg/dl (7.8-11.1 mmol/l) – abnormal glucose tolerance (IGT)
  9. ≥200 mg/dl (11.1 mmol/l) – diabetes
  10. HbA1c value determined in a laboratory by the NGSP-certified method
  11. ≥6.5% (48 mmol/mol) – diabetes

Of course, the test results should be submitted for medical interpretation.

Complications of diabetes

It is a good idea to remember about regular testings also because diabetes could cause number of complications – severe diseases, destructive for our body. These include:

– diabetic retinopathy (damage to the blood vessels in the retina) – this increases the risk of glaucoma and cataracts

– renal failure

– ischemic heart disease

– stroke

– neuropathy, or nerve damage.

Keep in mind that eating foods containing high level of sugar and avoiding physical activity can lead to obesity and diabetes. So, we encourage you to change your lifestyle to a healthy one, as well as to get tested regularly for diabetes. Let’s not give in to this epidemic of modern times.

1 NCD Risk Factor Collaboration 2016

2 IDF Atlas 9th edition and other resources (

3 Hostalek U. Global epidemiology of prediabetes – present and future perspectives. Clin Diabetes Endocrinol. 2019;5:5. Published 2019 May 9. doi:10.1186/s40842-019-0080-0

4 Guidelines of the Polish Diabetological Association 2021


6 Clinical recommendations of the Polish Diabetes Sociaety (2021)

7 measured in a blood sample taken at any time of the day, irrespective of the time of the last meal

8 measured in a blood sample collected 8–14 hours after the last meal

Diagnosis of diabetes requires one abnormal reading except for fasting blood glucose which requires two abnormal readings. A potential effect of factors

not related to testing itself should be taken into account when measuring blood glucose (timing of the last meal, exercise, time of the day)IFG – impaired fasting glycemia, IGT – impaired glucose tolerance, NFG – normal fasting glycemia, NGSP – National Glycohemoglobin Standardization Program, OGTT – oral glucose tolerance test, WHO – World Health Organization