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Diabetes Set To Soar As Kuwait Follows In US's Footsteps

By Lisa Conrad, Staff Writer

Posted: Thursday, October 06, 2011

KUWAIT: "Diabetes has become an epidemic." This was the stark message delivered by American diabetes expert Andrew Mandell, also known as 'Mr. Diabetes®,' yesterday. Speaking at a press conference held at the American Embassy on the risks of diabetes and the various preventative measures that can be taken to reduce the incidence of the disease, Mandell, who has walked 10,030.3 miles along the borders of the US to raise awareness of diabetes, said that Kuwait is a "snapshot" of where the US stood in relation to the condition 40 or 50 years ago, and is mirroring similar patterns to those seen in the States.

At present, 20-25 percent of Kuwaitis are already suffering from Type 2 diabetes, not a long way from the 33 percent of US children expected to develop the disease during their lifetimes. Given the current prevalence of Type 2 diabetes in the US, the future looks grim: at present there are 27 million diabetics in the US, and 79 million pre-diabetics who will become diabetic in the next 10 to 15 years unless they do something to prevent it. The condition is also responsible for 110,000 amputations per year
 
Even more worrying, Mandell added, is the fact that levels of Type 2 diabetes in children are increasing. "It's working its way down into elementary schools, and we're seeing kids develop Type 2 diabetes. It's vital to build positive habits early.

He added that the responsibility for building such habits lies in the hands of adults and the media who must provide information to children so that they at least have the option of choosing how they manage their health and avoid preventable ailments. At present, one out of every three children born in the US will develop diabetes during their lifetime. Parents, who are responsible for the fate of their child's health when it comes to preventing diabetes, need to learn to say no and avoid providing children with extra pocket money that may be used to buy unhealthy foods, Mandell added. Using the case of the US as a comparison, he noted that Kuwait will be in 'serious trouble' if it fails to educate youngsters about the issue.

The "serious trouble" Mandell referred to is twofold because, as well as the more obvious negative consequences for society of the continued prevalence of diabetes, the condition also imposes considerable financial costs on governments, "The financial cost of diabetes is 225 billion dollars per year in the US. If pre-diabetics become diabetic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that the cost will rise to 3.3 trillion dollars per year by the year 2050.

Kuwait is currently at a point where it can still take steps to prevent the extreme increase in diabetes levels witnessed in the US, said Mandell, adding that these choices will determine whether or not diabetes rates continue to soar here.

Another speaker at yesterday's event warned, however, that Kuwait's lifestyle and traditional foods could hinder attempts to prevent diabetes. "Food is at the centre of socializing in Kuwait," said Farah Al-Rifaie, the Assistant Dietetics Manager at Diet Care. "We meet to eat together, and even if food isn't the central activity, it becomes involved somehow. For example eating fatty, sugary snacks at the cinema.

Al-Rifaie continued, "The Kuwaiti diet is usually also very high in simple carbohydrates, which should not be consumed in large amounts." Mandell also noted that white foods - such as white rice, white pasta, potatoes and sugar - should be avoided or consumed in moderation.

Modifying one's lifestyle can greatly reduce the likelihood of getting Type 2 diabetes, Mandell stressed, adding that between 90 and 95 percent of all cases of the condition could be prevented. He added that as Kuwait continues to develop, it must determine which of the influences, continually pouring into the country, are positive, and which are negative.

The diabetes expert acknowledged the temptations of foods and sedentary lifestyles, citing the infamous clich�, "Everything I like is immoral, illegal or fattening," but adding, "You must ask yourself 'What is enough?' If you're eating just for taste, then make a small amount last." The small size of Kuwait means that information can be spread faster and will resonate more with the population as a whole, Mandell noted, saying that, by contrast, while the US makes efforts to encourage diabetes prevention, the vast size of the country means that it's increasingly difficult to spread the word.

The overall message that Mandell is promoting is to call for a restructuring of priorities and values. He noted that it is increasingly common for people to focus all of their attention on the health of others. Whilst this is an important issue, it is also vital to lead by example and pay more attention to self-maintenance. Diabetics, he added, should work out, eat well, and visit their doctors on a regular basis to ensure they stay in good health.

This level of focus on health and wellbeing can be key to preventing ever developing diabetes in the first place, Mandell concluded, saying, "We're in a new world, and there's opportunity to make new ground and make an impact now." Further information on Diabetes prevention can be found at: www.DefeatDiabetes.org, which also features a free online assessment. Should the test indicate that you're at risk of developing diabetes, Mandell recommends having an A1C test which will determine your risk level.

Source: Kuwait Times

 
 
 
 
 
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