World Diabetes Day (WDD) is celebrated on 14th November every year. It was in 1991 that World Diabetes Day first came to be celebrated after the International Diabetes Federation and the World Health Organization collaborated to find a solution to the growing cases of diabetes worldwide.
Ever since, member associations have teamed up with the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) to share and spread crucial information on prevention of diabetes. This year forms the third year of the five year campaign 2009-2013, that will take the main theme "Diabetes education and prevention" forward focusing more specifically on the theme for World Diabetes Day 2011 - 'Act on Diabetes. Now'
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Did you know that nearly 4 million lives are lost annually due to diabetes? That apart, nearly one million people are crippled due to amputations, a major complication of improperly managed sugar levels in the body.
Simply put, one person dies every 8 seconds due to diabetes related complications. Diabetes can affect anyone at anytime irrespective of age, economic status, and nationality.
Focus on Education and Prevention
The objectives of World Diabetes day 2011 focus on diabetes education and prevention, and stress on the power of knowledge as the only way to improve management of the disease. It is also a clarion call to people in healthcare and government to relook at the strategies for diabetes management. Ignorance is certainly not bliss, more so in the case of diabetes, therefore it is important to understand the risks and warning signs of diabetes.
Awareness and knowledge about diabetes is sacrosanct to proper management of the disorder. It is imperative that diabetics regularly monitor their blood glucose and make appropriate lifestyle changes. To make effective changes and take informed decisions, awareness about the condition is a must.
Lack of education can completely upset the applecart, elevating the risk of diabetes related complications leading to reduced health outcomes.
It may appear unbelievable but more than 285 million people worldwide are victims of diabetes. In the absence of education and prevention programmes, this figure may touch 435 million by 2030, which explains why the IDF has adopted a focussed approach to prevention of diabetes for a five year period (2009-2013).
Though Type 1 diabetes cannot be prevented, Type 2 diabetes can be offset by making lifestyle changes- maintaining weight, eating healthy and regular exercise. China, Finland and the United States are shining examples of success in management of diabetes with lifestyle modifications, and should be a template for other nations to follow.
One of the significant steps to take is to first identify those at high risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. This can be effectively done by evaluating important risk factors such as age, gestational history, cardiovascular history, and waist circumference. Once identified, people at high risk of diabetes should undergo evaluation of their plasma glucose levels to check for Impaired Fasting Glucose or Impaired Glucose Tolerance, which are pointers for risk of Type 2 Diabetes.
Risk factors of Type 2 Diabetes:
• Family history of diabetes
• Sedentary lifestyle
• Glucose intolerance
• Lack of exercise
• High cholesterol
• Consumption of fatty foods
• Ethnicity (Hispanics, Indigenous peoples, Asians and African Americans have shown greater incidences of diabetes)
• History of gestational diabetes
We now have enough proof about the benefit of regular exercise and weight management in preventing Type 2 diabetes. Those at high risk of Type 2 diabetes must alter their lifestyle to include at least 30 minutes of daily exercise, which could be swimming, cycling, dancing, or brisk walking. Research has underlined the benefit of regular walking for at least 30 minutes which can lower the risk of Type 2 diabetes by 35-40%.
Diabetes education and prevention programmes effectively support and reduce the burden on the nation's economy as well as the healthcare system. Victims of diabetes and those at risk will do good to tap into available resources to educate themselves about the condition to reduce their risks of life threatening complications. Act on diabetes. Now.