World Diabetes Day: sport champions promote the importance of physical activity for people with diabetes

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Sport personality Gary Mabbutt, MBE, and Professor Greg Whyte, Olympian and sport scientist talk candidly about role of physical exercise and controlled sugar intake in managing and preventing diabetes

Brussels, 14th November 2013:
 Gary Mabbutt MBE, former England International footballer with type 1 diabetes, and Professor Greg Whyte, Olympian, Sport Scientist and physical activity expert, have partnered with International Sweeteners Association for World Diabetes Day to raise awareness about the role of physical activity in managing type 1 and preventing type 2 diabetes.

In this ISA video interview for World Diabetes Day that can be viewed here, Gary Mabbutt, talks candidly about his fears after being diagnosed with diabetes aged 17 years and his worry about not being able to play professional football. He explains the lifestyle and diet adjustments he made and alternative choices for enjoying sweet tastes. He says in the interview: “I used to love having sugar in my tea and fizzy drinks. I found that substituting some sugar with low calorie sweeteners allowed me to continue to enjoy these sweet tastes.”

Having successfully managed his own condition, Mabbutt emphasises the importance of exercise: “Physical activity is important for everyone, not just for people with diabetes. Exercise will help lower your weight, lower your blood sugar, lower your cholesterol and improve your mood. As someone who has had diabetes for 35 years, I can categorically say as long as you look after yourself… diabetes will not hold you back from achieving your goals.”

Diabetes is one of the most challenging health problems of the 21st century. According to the International Diabetes Federation by 2030 there will be 66.5 million people with diabetes in Europe. Diabetes is chronic disease caused by the pancreas not producing sufficient insulin, or when the body cannot effectively use the insulin it produces.

The most common types of diabetes are type 1, type 2 and gestational diabetes. While the exact causes of diabetes are unknown, there has been a significant increase in the number of cases, globally. Type 2 diabetes is the most common type of diabetes, and the most rapidly increasing, despite being preventable.

Simple dietary and lifestyle changes have shown to be effective in preventing or delaying the onset of type 2 diabetes. Professor Greg Whyte, Olympian and sport scientist explains in this video interview that: “Type 2 diabetes is much more associated with lifestyle factors, particularly things like sedentary lifestyles, calorie dense foods and poor weight management.”

The International Sweeteners Association added: “More than 371 million people in the world have diabetes, and this number is increasing every day. World Diabetes Day reminds us of the importance of ongoing initiatives such this, helping to raise awareness of diabetes in everyday lives and ways in which it type 1 diabetes can be managed and type 2 can be prevented. As two experts in this area, Mabbutt and Whyte can help shed light on the importance of dietary and lifestyle changes – such as, taking regular physical exercise and controlling sugar intake through the use of low calorie sweeteners. Gary’s experience, in particular, is an inspiration to those with the condition and their friends and family, and to always believe in your dreams.”

To mark the occasion the ISA is also hosting an exclusive Twitter Q&A session with Gary Mabbutt and Greg Whyte on @Sweetenersandu at 3pm CET on 14 November 2013. Send your questions in 140 characters with #askgary or #askgreg to receive Whyte and Mabbutt’s expert advice on diabetes management and prevention in real time.

Editors Notes

About the International Sweeteners Association

The International Sweeteners Association (ISA) is a non-profit making organisation registered under Belgian law representing manufacturers and users of low-calorie sweeteners. The ISA is recognised by the European Commission, national and international regulatory authorities, and the World Health Organisation, and has Non-Government Observer status with the Codex Alimentarius Commission which establishes international food standards.

About Gary Mabbutt

Gary Mabbutt became one of the best known defenders in English football in the 1980s, playing initially for Bristol Rovers before joining the first division club Tottenham Hotspur, where he became captain in 1987, and won 16 caps for England. Mabbutt has type 1 diabetes and has become an icon for many young sportspeople with the condition.

About Greg Whyte

Greg Whyte is a Professor in Applied Sport & Exercise Science at Liverpool John Moores University and a UK authority on Exercise Physiology, Sports Performance & Rehabilitation. A former modern pentathlete, Greg competed in two Olympic Games (1992 and 1996) and has won European bronze and World Championship silver medals.