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Diabetes: A ticking time bomb

Diabetes: a lifestyle disease

A new study sheds light on the global burden of diabetes, projecting that the number of diabetes cases will surpass 1 billion by 2050. The researchers used over 27,000 data sources to estimate prevalence, disability, and deaths for 204 countries from 1990 to 2021, with a modeling tool taking socio-demographic factors and obesity into account to make projections for 2050.

A grim scenario

The study highlights that the vast majority of cases will be type 2 diabetes, which is a preventable condition characterized by gradual insulin resistance and commonly seen in adults. Type 1 diabetes, an autoimmune disease where the body cannot produce insulin, is expected to have a lower prevalence in comparison and is mostly seen in children.

The relevance of this study lies in the serious complications associated with diabetes, such as ischemic heart disease, stroke, vision loss, and foot ulcers. Due to lack of awareness and proper treatment, many people succumb to these complications, making it crucial to address and understand the projected increase in diabetes cases.

The driving factors, as identified in the study, are age and obesity. Major behavioral shifts and changes in food systems, including greater availability of shelf-stable and high-calorie products, limited access to healthy food options, increased consumption of ultra-processed foods, and reduced physical activity, contribute to the rising risk.

Let’s get to action

To minimize the chances of diabetes, researchers emphasize the importance of identifying prediabetes. Prediabetes is a condition where a person is not yet diabetic but is at high risk of developing diabetes. Lifestyle factors, such as diet, exercise, sleep, and stress, play a significant role in the development of prediabetes and diabetes. Avoiding excessive consumption of refined carbohydrates, sugary foods and drinks, and ultra-processed foods can help reduce the risk.

Global health agencies and experts advocate adopting healthy lifestyles to prevent diabetes. Encouraging high-risk individuals to increase fiber intake and consume whole grain foods, incorporating regular physical activity like walking, and avoiding prolonged sedentary hours are recommended. The World Health Organization (WHO) suggests at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise daily and maintaining a healthy body weight.

It is crucial for individuals to be aware of common diabetes symptoms, including excessive thirst, fatigue, unintentional weight loss, vision problems, and frequent urination. Early detection and timely intervention can help reduce the impact and its complications on individuals and healthcare systems worldwide.

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