“Healthy Living” the recurring theme for World Diabetes Day

14 November 2014

Vientiane, 14th November 2014 - Most of us know someone who has diabetes; it is a disease that affects more than 347 million people worldwide and account for 1.5 million deaths in 2012 alone, with almost 80% of diabetes deaths occurring in low and middle income countries, frequently affecting those aged 35 to 64.

“The World Diabetes Day highlights the growing global problem of diabetes, where the increase is driven largely by the rise in overweight and obesity, affecting many people in their productive years and studies are showing that children are at an increasing risk of developing the disease” said Dr Juliet Fleischl, WHO Representative to Lao PDR.

Many countries are documenting higher number of newly diagnosed cases of type 1 diabetes particularly in younger children. The other type of diabetes, Type 2 has also been increasing reported in children and adolescents and is attributed to childhood obesity and physical inactivity.  

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The good news is that cost-effective and feasible interventions exist to address diabetes by improving diets, where government sector can play a vital role to make healthy eating available, accessible and affordable to all. 

A healthy diet and thirty minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity on most days can drastically reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes which accounts for around 90% of all diabetes worldwide.

To help prevent Type 2 diabetes and its complications, people should try to maintain a healthy body weight, to stay physically active, eat a healthy diet of between 3-5 servings of fruit and vegetables each day while reducing sugar and saturated fats intake, and avoid tobacco.

General lack of awareness of diabetes, combined with insufficient access to health services and efficient medicines, can lead to blindness, amputation and kidney failure. Fifty per cent of people with diabetes die of cardiovascular disease.

Following the inauguration of two diabetes clinics, one in Vientiane Capital located at the Mahosot Hospital and the other in Champassack Provincial Hospital in 2010 with a combined total of 5441 patient cases, with one-third of the patient coming from the rural areas.

Figures show a doubling in numbers in the first half of 2011 compared to the first half of 2010, and a substantial number of cases showing complications; almost one-thirds with foot complications; one-thirds with high blood pressure and heart diseases and one fifth with kidney diseases.

Mahosot Hospital reported 3861 patient cases in 2011 with 1385 males and 2476 females and demographic revealed that females are twice more likely to get diabetes, the same trend seen in Champassack Provincial Hospital and an increase in the number of patients below 30 years of age.

In 2010, the World Health Assembly endorsed a set of recommendations on the marketing of foods and non-alcoholic beverages to children. The main purpose was to guide Member States in designing new policies, or strengthening existing policies, on food marketing communications to children in order to reduce the impact of marketing foods high in saturated fats, trans-fatty acids, free sugars, or salt to children.

Total deaths from diabetes are projected to rise by more than 50% in the next 10 years, making diabetes the 7th leading cause of deaths in the world by the year 2030 so it is time to review our diet and physical activity so as to reduce our risk of developing type 2 diabetes.  Type 1 diabetes, on the other hand, cannot be prevented.

The recurring theme of the World Diabetes Day for the next three years is about “Healthy Living”. Healthy living with an emphasis on healthy eating, and ensuring sufficient physical activity is an important component of both preventing and treating diabetes.

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