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Providing dietary advice for people with type 2 diabetes

This articles deals with the dietary advice that should be provided to people with type 2 diabetes by anyone working in the community (it does not cover advice on physical activity or prevention of type 2 diabetes). If a patient with type 2 diabetes is overweight or obese, the most important factor is to lose weight — even a 5–10% weight loss can improve insulin sensitivity and hence diabetic control. Other factors that are considered in this article are the type of carbohydrate that can be eaten, with wholegrain/high-fibre, lower glycaemic index starches being the best option (the glycaemic index measures the effect of carbohydrates on blood glucose level). Although sugar provides 'empty calories' (food that supplies energy but negligible nutrition) and can result in weight gain, it does not contribute to diabetes directly. Cholesterol levels should be reduced by eating the correct fats, and salt levels should be kept to below 6g a day.