The Importance of World Diabetes Day: 95 Events in 37 Countries


  1. What is World Diabetes Day?
  2. What is National Diabetes Day?
  3. How common is diabetes in children UK?
  4. What are the warning signs of diabetes in children?
  5. What is the main cause of diabetes?
  6. How to protect your child against type 2 diabetes

World Diabetes Day is coming up and it’s a chance for raising awareness on a global scale. If you’d like to get involved there are plenty of activities taking place in the UK which we’ll share with you. We’ll also run you through the different types of diabetes and where it’s possible to prevent the disease from developing, plus symptoms you can expect to see. Together, we can all make a positive difference.child injecting insulin

What is World Diabetes Day?


The World Health Organization and the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) launched World Diabetes Day in 1991. It was created to help combat the rising health threat that diabetes posed and World Diabetes Day aims to:

  • Promote the IDF’s efforts
  • Drive the importance of coordinating actions on a global level to confront diabetes

Diabetes is endemic around the world. Some of the latest facts and figures from the IDF Diabetes Atlas include:

  • 463 million adults have diabetes and they expect this to increase to 578 million by 2030
  • 1 in 2 adults who have diabetes remain undiagnosed
  • Diabetes represents around 10 percent of the money spent globally on healthcare

Diabetes is a chronic disease that can lead to other health conditions such as kidney failure, heart attacks, and blindness. This is why it’s important to mark the day internationally to bring awareness and action to the problem.

Why is World Diabetes Day on 14 November?

World Diabetes Day is held on 14 November because it was the birthday of Sir Frederick Banting, who discovered insulin in 1922 along with Charles Best. This year’s event is particularly momentous because Banting and Best started their experiments in 1921, which marks 100 years to the year 2021. 📅

What is the theme for World Diabetes Day 2021?

The theme for World Diabetes Day 2021 will be “Access to Diabetes Care - If Not Now, When?”. The organisers state that millions of people around the world don’t have access to diabetes care. Yet people with diabetes need ongoing care to manage their condition if they’re to avoid complications. 

The key messages this year’s World Diabetes Day theme seeks so address are:

  • Inadequate access to insulin and oral medicines for many 
  • Many people can’t monitor their blood glucose levels because they don’t have access to the equipment they need
  • Many people with diabetes don’t have access to education on diabetes management
  • People need healthy food and a place to exercise in order to prevent the development of diabetes and also as part of diabetes care

What is the World Diabetes Day logo?

In 2007, World Diabetes Day adopted a blue circle logo. The blue circle is a global symbol for awareness of diabetes.

What is happening globally on World Diabetes Day?

There are 95 events being held in 37 countries to support World Diabetes Day. Here are just some examples of the great activities taking place:

  • Zaria, Nigeria - There will be screenings for people living with diabetes, with a focus on recognising complications. Screenings will include eyes, feet, hypertension, and blood sugar
  • Borgo, France - An exhibition will be held for the general public and patients with diabetes, pre-diabetic people, and families and partners of people with diabetes. There will be physical tests available and experts available such as dieticians 
  • Asunción, Paraguay - An exhibition will be held providing educational talks around topics including food, how to give insulin, and checking feet 

How can you get involved in World Diabetes Day 2021?

World Diabetes Day has a number of suggested activities and ways to get involved on the website including: 

  • Engaging policy-makers to make sure that everyone with diabetes has access to the right care
  • Lighting up places in blue (e.g. your home or workplace)
  • Take their online test to learn about the potential risks of type 2 diabetes
  • Arrange activities at your kid’s school or your workplace and wear blue
  • Post your photos of activities and walks on social media using the hashtags #WorldDiabetesDay and #IfNotNowWhen 

What is National Diabetes Day?


There is no dedicated National Diabetes Day in the UK, although World Diabetes Day is celebrated and the UK follows the same date each year. The UK runs its own events on this day making it a national celebration of a kind too. 

However, the UK does have its own National Diabetes Week each year. This is a separate event from the global day. 

What day is National Diabetes Day?

National Diabetes Day 2021 will be the same as World Diabetes Day on 14 November. This year, Diabetes UK is running lots of different activities and providing free resources to help you get involved. 

How can you get involved in World Diabetes Day 2021?

Diabetes UK has planned different ways that you can get involved this year.

Take the #NailingDiabetes challenge

Help Diabetes UK “nail a cure” by painting your nails blue. The purpose is to show support and raise awareness. Once you’ve painted your nails blue take a photo and share it on social media using the hashtag #NailingDiabetes. 

You can also make a donation by texting 70507 and choosing to give £3, £5, or £10 by typing the following codes (NAILS3 / NAILS5 / NAILS10). You can also set up a JustGiving fundraising page to raise money for the cause.

Visit the Diabetes UK online shop

You’ll find plenty of free resources in the online shop, including posters, creative kits, and guides to type 1 and type 2 diabetes. 


How common is diabetes in children UK?


Diabetes is on the rise in the UK, sadly among children too. ⬆️ Type 1 diabetes is a genetic disorder and unavoidable, whereas type 2 diabetes develops over time due to a combination of lifestyle and genetic factors. Just in terms of type 1 diabetes:

  • 29,000 children are living with type 1 diabetes in the UK
  • The number of new diagnoses is rising by approximately 4% every year and in children under 5 this figure is 5% a year
  • Of the children who have diabetes in England and Wales, 96% have type 1
  • The UK has one of the highest rates of type 1 diabetes in the world

What are the warning signs of diabetes in children?


Did you know that 4 out of 5 parents have trouble spotting the warning signs for diabetes? For that reason, we’re going to share the key warning signs that the NHS says to look out for in your child that can indicate type 1 diabetes:

  • Toilet - If your child is urinating more frequently
  • Tired - If your child is more tired than normal
  • Thirsty - If your child is really thirsty and can’t quench it
  • Thinner - If your child loses weight and looks thinner than usual

These are the most common symptoms. There are other warning signs to look out for like increased hunger, blurry vision, dry skin, sweet fruity smell on their breath, or recurring thrush. 

If you believe your child may be at risk, contact your doctor immediately. 


What is the main cause of diabetes?


There are distinctly different causes for each type of diabetes: type 1, type 2, and gestational. Let’s look at what the main causes are for each:

Main causes of type 1 diabetes

Type 1 diabetes occurs when the immune system destroys cells in the pancreas that make insulin. This means the body doesn’t have enough insulin to function properly. 

There is no one cause defined that leads to type 1 diabetes, although genetic disposition is often cited as a probability. There are also some possible triggers such as a viral infection, chemical toxins from food, or an unidentified component that causes an autoimmune reaction. 

Main causes of type 2 diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is usually a result of multiple factors. One of the most common factors is having type 2 diabetes in the family. Other precursors can be obesity, lack of activity, a poor diet, and age. 

Main causes of gestational diabetes

The causes of developing gestational diabetes (diabetes in pregnancy) are also unknown. However, there are certain risk factors: family history of gestational diabetes, being overweight, polycystic ovary syndrome, and having previously had a baby over 9lb. 


How to protect your child against type 2 diabetes


Type 2 diabetes is more common in adults but an ever-increasing number of children are diagnosed each year. Type 2 diabetes can be largely avoided by making some lifestyle changes. You can significantly lower the chances of developing this chronic illness. More than half of cases could be prevented or delayed. 

That’s great news because it means by practising better lifestyle habits early on your child will hopefully follow these through to adulthood too. You can make a positive change for yourself, your child, and your entire family. ❤️ Of course, you may not need to make any improvements depending on your current lifestyle but it’s worth checking. 

Let’s look at how to reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes:

  • Eat well - Cut down on sugar, eat higher fibre carbs, eat lots of fruit and veg, eat less red and processed meat, choose healthier fats (e.g. nuts, olive oil) in place of unhealthy ones (e.g. butter), and cut down on salt
  • Exercise - Moving more is key to reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes as well as many other preventable ailments
  • Lose weight (if overweight) - For some people, it can be harder to lose weight even when following a healthy diet and doing regular exercise. This can be due to genetics or many other factors 

While a healthy diet and plenty of physical exercise are key, if you or your child are still struggling to lose weight or come up with a healthy lifestyle plan, talk to your GP or local services that specialise in this field. 

No matter whether you know someone with diabetes or not, World Diabetes Day is an important event for everyone to get involved in. Raising awareness is crucial in prevention and treatment. As you can see, we’re not immune from diabetes in the UK so we all need to look out for each other, raise awareness and come together.