Diabetes: UAE eats itself sick

DUBAI // UAE health officials will discuss the war on diabetes at a conference marking World Health Day on Thursday, after a report showed the number of diabetics worldwide has quadrupled in less than four decades. The latest figures from the World Health Organisation show that 422 million people have the disease, with 2016 declared […]

DUBAI // UAE health officials will discuss the war on diabetes at a conference marking World Health Day on Thursday, after a report showed the number of diabetics worldwide has quadrupled in less than four decades.

The latest figures from the World Health Organisation show that 422 million people have the disease, with 2016 declared the year to “Beat Diabetes”.

The global call to action followed steps in the UAE to reduce incidence from 19 per cent of the population to 16 per cent by 2021.

Data from the International Diabetes Federation to mark World Diabetes Day last year showed there were 803,900 diabetics in the UAE.

The Eastern Mediterranean region – which includes the Middle East – had the highest prevalence of diabetes in the world, affecting 43 million people, said Dr Ala Alwan, regional director for the WHO.

The prevalence rose from 6 per cent of the region’s population in 1980 to 14 per cent in 2014, mostly because of rising Type 2 diabetes rates, which in turn are largely the result of excess body weight, physical inactivity and unhealthy diets, said Dr Alwan.

The WHO report, released yesterday, was one of the largest studies to date of diabetes trends. Researchers said ageing populations and rising levels of obesity meant diabetes was becoming “a defining issue for global public health”.

The organisation called for expanding health-promoting environments to reduce diabetes risk factors and strengthening national efforts to help people with diabetes receive the treatment and care they need to manage their conditions.

Data from the WHO showed diabetes accounted for 3 per cent of all deaths in the UAE, with men more at risk than women. Figures also showed 410 deaths in men aged 30 to 69 were attributable to high blood glucose, and 110 annually in women.

The Ministry of Health and Prevention launched many awareness programmes and developed a National Diabetes Control Committee to take charge of reducing the numbers.

“Many cases of diabetes can be prevented, and measures exist to detect and manage the condition, improving the odds that people with diabetes live long and healthy lives,” said Dr Oleg Chestnov, WHO’s assistant director-general for non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and mental health.

“But change greatly depends on governments doing more, including by implementing global commitments to address diabetes and other NCDs.”

The complications of diabetes can lead to heart attack, stroke, blindness, kidney failure and lower limb amputation.

Diabetes caused 1.5 million deaths worldwide in 2012. Higher-than-optimal blood glucose caused an additional 2.2 million deaths by increasing the risks of cardiovascular and other diseases.

The WHO study used data from 4.4 million adults in different world regions to estimate age-adjusted diabetes prevalence for 200 countries.

It found that between 1980 and 2014, diabetes has become more common among men than women, and rates of diabetes rose significantly in many low and middle income countries, including China, India, Indonesia, Pakistan, Egypt and Mexico.

The study found that no country had any meaningful decrease in diabetes prevalence. The largest increases in rates were in Pacific island nations, followed by the Middle East and North Africa.

nwebster@thenational.ae

* With Reuters

Source: uae news

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