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Working together . . . Barbara Richardson has started a new support group for pre-diabetics and type 2 diabetics. PHOTO: REBECCA RYAN

Managing type 2 and pre-diabetes can be a lot of work.

But Barbara Richardson hopes her new support group will make things a little easier.

It was “a bit of a shock” for Mrs Richardson, an active North Otago farmer, to find out she was pre-diabetic two years ago.

She did not have any symptoms, but her doctor included an HbA1C test, a measure of someone’s average blood sugar over three months, in her annual health check.

It revealed a higher than average blood glucose level, placing her in the pre-diabetic category.

Pre-diabetes can often lead to type 2 diabetes.

Determined to prevent that development, Mrs Richardson started changing the amount and type of food she ate and increased her physical activity, although she was already quite active on the farm and a keen mountain biker.

She also started doing research into pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes and “realised it’s quite complex”.

“There are plenty of books and online information available … but it can seem a bit overwhelming.

“So I thought, doing all this research for myself, maybe I should get a group together and help other people as well’.”

Mrs Richardson said she was not an expert in diabetes, and would not be offering any medical advice.

She just saw a need in the community and, as a trained veterinarian, knew a lot about prevention through managing animals’ diets.

“We use a lot of dietary changes to keep cows healthy, and I think for people we can look that same way.”

The new support group for type 2 and pre-diabetics would offer support, inspiration and motivation in between dietitian appointments or health check-ups.

“Because usually you see a dietitian and you might see them once, or not very often, so then it’s really hard to decide what to do, and then to remember.

“Really, it’s about sharing ideas and I think there’s a lot of scope to make a difference.”

Many complications associated with type 2 diabetes could be prevented if eople were diagnosed early and took action to manage it, she said.

Mrs Richardson will host the group’s first meeting at 7pm on Tuesday, May 25, at The Business Hive and said anyone was welcome – young and old, newly-diagnosed and those who had been living with type 2 diabetes long term.

“People can come in and talk about the changes they’ve made and what’s happening and ask questions of all of us,” she said.

She hoped to hold monthly gatherings, and have guest speakers at future meetings.

Those wanting more information can contact Mrs Richardson on 027 279-4893.