The prevalence of type 2 diabetes is skyrocketing throughout Pakistan’s urban centres that grow daily as migrants arrive from rural areas. In response, the International Diabetes Federation and Diabetic Association of Pakistan lead awareness, education and prevention campaigns peaking on World Diabetes Day.
In Pakistan, approximately 120 000 people die annually of diabetes-related complications. Even more staggering, up to 50 per cent of diabetic sufferers are unaware of the diagnosis and are inching closer to heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, blindness and limb amputation.
Unknowing victims are commonly diagnosed incidentally through blood or urine tests associated with other active health conditions. Because early detection and prompt treatment can reduce the burden of diabetes and its complications, screening for diabetes is an appropriate prevention strategy.
Increasing amounts of evidence supports the diagnosis of pre-diabetes. Pre-diabetes occurs when blood sugar levels are higher than normal but not yet high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes. Screening for pre-diabetes is important because more than 10 per cent of pre-diabetics become diabetic within three years.
Nearly half of the people in Pakistan who die of diabetic complications are under the age 60. Anyone older than age 45 is advised to receive an initial blood sugar screening, and if the results are normal, be proactively screened every three years thereafter.
Good diabetic care generally means keeping one’s blood sugar levels within the normal range. This can often be effectively achieved through maintaining a healthy body weight, engaging in sufficient physical activity, eating a well-balanced diet and avoiding substances of abuse such as alcohol and tobacco.
Physical activity is one of the most important aspects in maintaining a healthy body weight and preventing type 2 diabetes. Maintaining one’s body weight improves insulin control, keeps blood sugar in check and reduces harmful cholesterol and blood pressure that is linked to life threatening complications.
Unhealthy diets, especially the excessive consumption of energy, saturated fat, trans fat, salt and sugar could cause at least 40 per cent of all deaths from diabetes. To prevent or reverse diabetes – reduce sugar intake, eliminate processed food items, reduce portion size and increase consumption of vegetables.
Smoking can promote the development of diabetes by at least 30 per cent. Smoking is one of the leading causes of inflammation, scarring of the arteries and atherosclerosis – leading risk factors for heart disease, stroke and premature death.
The World Diabetes Day campaign is led by the International Diabetes Federation and its member associations. It engages millions of people worldwide in diabetes advocacy and awareness. To prevent diabetes and help support a local campaign, please visit: http://www.idf.org/worlddiabetesday
Dr Cory Couillard is an international health columnist that works in collaboration with the World Health Organization’s goals of disease prevention and global health care education. Views do not necessarily reflect endorsement.
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