EDITORIAL: Diabetes battle being lost
Last Thursday was World Diabetes Day, which is celebrated every year by the International Diabetes Federation (IDF). This day was introduced to draw global attention to the alarming rate of increase in diabetes around the world.
This phenomenon cannot simply be a question of eating the wrong foods or lack of exercise. It is well known that in the Caribbean that this non-communicable disease is rampant and is the fifth leading cause of death in this region.
In Barbados, it is estimated that about 25 000 people are suffering from this disease and the number is expected to double by the year 2020. Prevention, as doctors say, could be practised with knowledge and therefore awareness is an important tool to fight this health monster.
The world seems to be losing the battle against diabetes and its life-threatening, disabling complications, as the number of people estimated to be living with the disease soars to a new record of 382 million this year, medical experts have said.
The vast majority have Type 2 diabetes – the kind linked to obesity and lack of exercise – and the epidemic is spreading as more people in the developing world adopt sedentary and inactive lifestyles.
The latest estimate from the IDF is equivalent to a global prevalence rate of 8.4 per cent of the adult population and compares with 371 million cases in 2012. By 2035, the organization predicts the number of cases will have soared by 55 per cent to 592 million.
Does consuming too much sugar cause diabetes? One of the most popular myths associated with diabetes is that it is caused by this. The misconceptions and myths about this lifestyle disease that is linked to various other health complications are in abundance.
Diabetes is a metabolic disorder in which the glucose level in the blood rises beyond the normal limit which damages tissues in the body and can lead to a host of complications like cardiac problems, kidney problems and even blindness.
Another common myth is that once you start taking insulin, you become dependent on it for life. People often think that insulin is like a drug that you get addicted to, but the truth is that diabetics are not so much bothered about insulin itself as the process of daily injecting themselves with it.
People with diabetes have inadequate blood sugar control, which can lead to a range of dangerous complications, including damage to the eyes, kidneys and heart. If left untreated, it can result in premature death.
The best we can do is to encourage people to adopt a healthy lifestyle and control and improve their diet. The NATION in its own way has been making a significant contribution to this effort in its annual Fun Ride and Funathlon, which attract large numbers each year.
No doubt a strategy involving all parts of society is needed to improve diets and promote healthier lifestyles. In this regard, the Diabetes Foundation and Diabetes Association of Barbados deserve our tangible and financial support in their efforts to mitigate the effects of diabetes.