A Leeds woman who is at high risk of Type 2 diabetes is determined she is not going to fall victim to the condition that changed the life of her brother.

Through her family, 67-year-old Val Gibson knows of the potential health issues, including heart and kidney disease, a greater risk of having a stroke, nerve damage and deterioration of her eyesight. Those are the main reasons why she signed up for a place on the new Healthier You: NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme, delivered in the city by the NHS, Leeds City Council’s Public Health team, and Ingeus, a leading provider of health, employment, training and skills services.

By her own admittance, Val’s life style is sedentary, and she is determined to change this. Her chronic asthma limits what she can do physically, but she has invested in an exercise bike so that, when she feels able, she can complement the dietary changes she is also making.

“It’s early days, but the programme has already taught us about controlling our portion sizes and has shown us the right kind of foods to eat to stay healthy,” she said. “I have now made substantial changes to what and how much I eat, and along with my increased exercise, I really am starting to feel the benefits.”

Currently 40,750 people in Leeds have Type 2 diabetes and 64,377 people are thought to be at high risk of getting the disease but do not know about it. At the moment, 44,927 people have been identified as being high risk. Specific areas of high diabetes prevalence in Leeds include Armley, where Val lives.

“I am determined not become another statistic, which is why my motivation to benefit from this course is so high,” she said. “I know that ten months is a long time to stick with it, but I see it as an opportunity to change my lifestyle forever.”

Val’s course is being delivered by Ingeus’s Healthier You educator Tash Youngman. “The programme is all about working with participants and encouraging them to make changes, just as Val is doing. Each time we meet we go through another part of becoming and remaining healthier through the food we eat and the lifestyle we adopt, and we talk about making permanent changes that will give us the opportunity to live longer and remain in good health. Val has committed herself wholeheartedly and is a shining example of how small changes can soon add up to a substantially improved lifestyle.”