Senior Labour MP Keith Vaz has revealed he was shocked to discover he had type 2 diabetes, despite experiencing signs of the disease for years.
Speaking to the Daily Express, the 56-year-old found out about his diabetic condition 13 years ago at a diabetes awareness event run by his GP in his Leicester East constituency.
For years he displayed many of the classic symptoms of type 2 diabetes. He suffered unexplained headaches, was often very thirsty and had trouble sleeping, all of which he thought were caused by the pressures of his job.
“Working in the House of Commons is very hectic and stressful. You’re often there late and just grab what you can to eat. I’ve got a sweet tooth and I was consuming a lot of chocolate and my weight was too high,” he said.
He volunteered to be tested to encourage others to take part, but was left stunned the next day after he was told by his GP that he had type 2 diabetes.
Mr Vaz admitted the diagnosis was a huge wake-up call, encouraging him to make healthy changes to his lifestyle such as reducing his daily sugar intake, drinking more water, eating more vegetables, getting more sleep and being more physically active.
These measures have helped the father-of-two lose over a stone in weight but he still requires anti-diabetic drugs to keep his blood sugar levels under control.
To help raise awareness of type 2 diabetes and highlight the importance of getting checked for the disease, Mr Vaz founded the Silver Star charity group in 2007, which runs mobile diabetes testing units in London, Leicester and overseas.
“It’s important people understand diabetes,” he continued. “There should be more advice about lifestyle rather than simply a focus on medication. I believe people with diabetes should be prescribed exercise.
“I’d also like to see a lot more testing. It’s easy and cheap but there are lots of people who don’t know they have diabetes. The sooner they are diagnosed the quicker they can make changes to their diet.”

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