A guide to diabetes structured education

Type 2 diabetes is a chronic condition that, if not managed well, can have an impact on various aspects of someone’s well-being.

The good news is that with the right knowledge, understanding and motivation it can be managed well.

This helps to prevent complications such as:

  • damage to your heart, kidneys or nerve endings,
  • improve your quality of life
  • and reduce the risk of serious health issues both now and in the future.

Understanding Type 2 diabetes

What’s the difference between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes?

Type 1 diabetes and Type 2 diabetes are both chronic conditions that affect how the body regulates the glucose in your bloodstream. They have different causes, risk factors, and treatment approaches.

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune condition. This is where a person’s own immune system mistakenly destroys the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin. As a result, the body cannot produce insulin and therefore the treatment for Type 1 diabetes is insulin. This is essential for their survival.

Type 2 diabetes has a different cause. Type 2 diabetes is usually caused by a resistance to one’s own insulin. This is often due to lifestyle factors such as carrying extra body weight and a sedentary lifestyle, but family history and genetics also increase one’s risk.

Insulin resistance means the pancreas is still producing insulin but the cells intended to respond to it cannot do so effectively.

Initially the pancreas will try and deal with this insulin resistance by producing extra insulin, but over time it is unable to keep up with demand. This results in an increase in the amount of glucose found in the bloodstream.

The treatment for Type 2 diabetes involves lifestyle changes. These include making dietary changes, increasing physical activity levels and managing weight where weight loss is appropriate. It may also include medications, which may be oral or injectable medications.

What are the risk factors for Type 2 diabetes?

Risk factors for Type 2 diabetes include:

    • a family history of diabetes,
    • being overweight,
    • a sedentary lifestyle,
    • and being from certain ethnic backgrounds.

Previous gestational diabetes and an increasing age are risk factors too. Previous use of some medications such as steroids can also increase your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.

Diabetes UK reports that more than 4.3 million people live with diabetes in the UK. They suggest that around 90% of these have Type 2 diabetes. Many remain undiagnosed and they suspect that more than 2.4 million people are at an increased risk of Type 2 diabetes.

The importance of Type 2 diabetes structured education

Education is the foundation of effective Type 2 diabetes management. It gives people the knowledge, skills, and confidence to make smart choices, adopt healthier habits, and manage their health. This learning process is ongoing, helping individuals live better with Type 2 diabetes, lower the chances of problems, and enhance their overall quality of life.

The benefit of structured education for diabetes is that you will have a greater understanding of how to take charge of your own health. It should equip you with the knowledge and motivation to make any necessary lifestyle changes.

Crucially, it can also provide you with the support and encouragement you may need to manage your health. It can be really difficult to get time with healthcare professionals, this makes it even more important for you to have access to highly quality information you can trust, understand and put into action.

Diabetes education programmes in the UK

There are various NHS diabetes education programmes available in the UK.

Finding one that is right for you is important. We all have different learning styles and varying amounts of time to commit. Some of us may thrive in a group environment while others are happier in the comfort of their own homes, working through information at their own pace.

Do make sure that the programme and the information provided is from a reputable source. Many diabetes courses will be accredited, for example by QISMET, which means the quality of not only the information but also the way it is conveyed is of a high standard!

Your GP or practice nurse can refer you to a programme and some areas may have self-referral options available, where you can easily sign up online. The sooner you can be in the know, the more control you will have over your Type 2 diabetes and be able to take important steps to live well with your condition.

What to expect from Oviva Diabetes Support

Oviva’s Diabetes Support is a free 12 week programme with remote personalised support either via the Oviva app or telephone if preferred.

Participants will be matched to a care plan personalised for them. If you are not sure which option may be best for you, our team is available to support you in making that decision.

During the 12 weeks you will receive written diabetes education content, recipes and meal plans. There are podcasts and videos to really help deepen your understanding and your coach will be there to support, encourage and guide you throughout the 12 weeks.

The Oviva app is an intuitive all in one self tracking tool that allows you to easily track your food, activity, weight and even your mood. This allows you to monitor your progress. The app also includes secure communication with your coach, allowing your coach to really support you throughout the programme!

The coaches at Oviva are experienced and there to work with you, in a way that is right for you. Everyone’s health journey is different, the Oviva team and digital tools are there to make achieving your health goals as easy as possible. We can arrange appointments times that work for you, with evening and weekend availability. We know that making changes to your habits can be challenging, but we also know that with support it can feel much easier and is key to your success!

The role of weight management

What’s the link between weight and Type 2 diabetes?

Many diabetes structured education programmes will focus on weight management, in particular weight loss.

Excess weight, particularly weight around the midsection, is a significant risk factor for Type 2 diabetes.

Imagine insulin as a key that helps glucose get inside our body’s cells from our blood stream. This is where the glucose is meant to go, so the body can use the glucose as fuel or energy.

When we gain weight, our body’s cells change shape. So, the keyhole where insulin should go also changes shape. This means the key (insulin) doesn’t fit in the keyhole (body cells) like it used to. We call this insulin resistance, which means your own insulin doesn’t work as well in your body.

Your body does its best to cope by making extra insulin. But after a while, it can’t keep up with the demand. This is where we tend to see an even further deterioration in someone’s blood glucose levels or glycaemic (diabetes) control. This happens because you’re already resistant to insulin, and now there’s not enough of it!

That’s why we often think of Type 2 diabetes as something that gradually gets worse. You might need more medication over time. But the exciting thing is, recent research is telling us that it doesn’t have to be that way.

In fact losing a significant amount of weight as soon as possible after diagnosis can put Type 2 diabetes into remission.

There are many things that you can do to help improve your diabetes control and reduce your risk of complications. Losing weight (if appropriate) is the single biggest action you can take!

Managing weight with Type 2 diabetes

Weight loss is such an important part of managing Type 2 diabetes but losing weight can feel like a daunting task. So many people claim to be experts with easy solutions. It can be difficult to know where to start, and who to trust.

Finding an approach that works for you is important. It needs to be an approach that will fit in with your family, work and financial situation. It also needs to be safe and effective.

This is likely to be an approach that you use for the rest of your life so it needs to be something you can stick to.

5 weight management tips to help manage Type 2 diabetes.

  1. It really helps to start by setting realistic goals. Your goals should be achievable and it can help to have some shorter term goals that help you reach your bigger goal.
  2. There are many dietary approaches that you can try and do speak with a healthcare professional about any approaches that you may be considering. In the meantime focus on eating a variety of fresh, unprocessed foods. Aim for plenty of vegetables, some fruit, wholegrains and lean proteins.
  3. Try to reduce hidden and visible fats as much as possible. Avoid frying as a cooking method, remove fat off meat and thinly apply any spread. If using fats include healthy fats such as olive oil.
  4. Be mindful of portion sizes. Using a smaller plate can help. Aim to keep your carbohydrate portion (rice, pasta, potatoes) to just ¼ of the plate.
  5. Celebrate the wins-both the big ones and the smaller ones! Build a list of non-food related rewards that you can use to celebrate as you reach your goals. Your goals may include the way you feel and not just a number on the scales!

And remember, you do not have to do this alone. Seek support from your family, friends and healthcare professionals. Seek out extra diabetes education to ensure you have the right knowledge and skills to tackle this important task!

Getting the most out of diabetes structured education

As with most things in life, the more you put in, the more you will get out. This rings true for diabetes education. This is a unique opportunity to access healthcare professionals with up-to-date, specialist knowledge in the field of diabetes.

The more you share about your habits and choices, the more your coach can tailor their support. This will help you turn your newfound knowledge and understanding into actions that you can confidently take away and make part of your daily life.

Applying what you learn to various aspects of your life, such as shopping, cooking, meal times and your activity, will allow you to understand how the new knowledge truly impacts your health and life.

It also gives you a chance to understand aspects that you may feel are more challenging than others as you have dedicated support.

Diabetes education is carefully structured to help build your knowledge, skill and confidence, it is therefore important to follow your chosen programme as set out. This will ensure that you get the most out of diabetes education.

Support systems and resources

Living with diabetes can be emotionally challenging. It’s a lifelong condition that requires daily attention, and it’s normal to feel overwhelmed, stressed, or anxious at times. A support system, whether it’s family, friends, or a diabetes support group, provides emotional support and a safe space to share your feelings and experiences.

Knowing that someone is there to check in on your progress can help you stay accountable to your diabetes management plan. Whether it’s a friend, family member, or support group, they can motivate you to stick to your goals.

Your support system can lend a hand with various aspects of diabetes management, such as meal planning, exercise, or medication reminders. Their involvement can make the daily tasks of managing diabetes more manageable.

Family members and friends can also participate in your diabetes education process, learning about the condition and its management. This knowledge allows them to provide better support and assist in emergencies.


Structured education for Type 2 diabetes is a valuable resource that empowers individuals with knowledge, skills, and support to effectively manage their condition and improve their overall health and quality of life.

Making changes to one’s habits and lifestyle is not always easy but Oviva aims to support participants in achieving their health goals in a way that is right for them, both now and in the future!

Better manage your Type 2 diabetes with Oviva

Find out more about Oviva Diabetes Support today.

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