In Singapore, 1 in 9 has diabetes. Diabetes has become such a growing health concern which led Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong to call for Singaporeans to take steps to live healthily in his 2017 National Rally to combat this condition.
14 November is World Diabetes Day. Let’s take a look at who are at risk of having diabetes and what are some ways to mitigate these risks.
What is Diabetes?
The three types of diabetes are:
a) Type 1 Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes is a condition when the pancreas is unable to produce insulin, which prevents glucose from being absorbed into body cells, leading to high blood sugar levels. Type 1 diabetes usually runs in the family. Although it is more common in children and adolescents, it can occur at any age.
b) Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes where the pancreas does not produce enough insulin or when the insulin produced is not working effectively. Type 2 diabetes is largely preventable.
c) Gestational Diabetes
Gestational diabetes occurs when women without diabetes developed high blood sugar levels during pregnancy which usually disappears after giving birth.
Find out more about the symptoms of Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes from our earlier article, Knowing Diabetes.
What Happens if Diabetes is Left Untreated?
It is important to pay attention to the risk of diabetes, detect it early and seek treatment. If left untreated or inappropriately managed, diabetes can lead to further health issues including blindness, kidney failure, heart attack, stroke and nerve damage resulting in amputation.
Who are at Risk?
One is more likely to develop the more common Type II diabetes if they
- are overweight
- lead a sedentary lifestyle
- are above 40 years old
- have a parent or sibling with diabetes
- have a history of gestational diabetes (high blood sugar levels during pregnancy)
- have impaired glucose tolerance (blood glucose is above normal levels, but not high enough to warrant a diabetes diagnosis) or impaired fasting glucose (blood sugar levels during fasting are consistently higher than normal)
- have high cholesterol or lipid levels
- have hypertension
How to Prevent Diabetes?
Changing one’s lifestyle and dietary preferences can help to reduce the risk of getting Type 2 diabetes. For instance,
- Eat healthily by ensuring a moderately-portioned and well-balanced diet and cut down on sugary, salty and oily food
- Stay active and fit by exercising regularly
- Keep a healthy weight
- Limit alcohol consumption
- Quit smoking
The government have put in various schemes to help citizens with diabetes prevention. For example, the Eat, Drink, Shop Healthy Challenge by Health Promotion Board (HPB) aims to encourage consumers to make healthier choices when buying meals, drinks or grocery where consumers can exchange for rewards by accumulating points through purchasing qualifying items from participating outlets.
Public education videos, such as Kungfu Fighter, Hidden Sugartlets, Kungfu Fighter: A Hero Rices and Choose water – Drink Up!, use comic effects and pop culture to encourage citizens to eat healthily.
Just recently, the Government announced the banning of advertisements for pre-packaged drinks with very high sugar content, while medium-to-high sugar content drinks have to carry a label to indicate if the drink is healthy, neutral or unhealthy, in 2020.
As in all health conditions, prevention is better than cure.
“Start today, so that we can live healthily and live well.”
– Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at National Day Rally 2017
- Diabetes (Pocket Guide), Healthhub
- Win Over Diabetes, SingHealth
- National Day Rally 2017, Prime Minister Office
- War on diabetes: Unhealthy label for high-sugar drinks, total ban on ads to be introduced in Singapore, The Straits Times, 10 Oct 2019