Since 1991, every year, on the 14th of November, the world celebrates World Diabetes Day. This date is quite special and was chosen by the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) because it is the birthday of Federic Banting. Banting, with Charles Best and John James Macleod conceived the first-ever Insulin shot in 1922.
World Diabetes Day was constituted by the IDF in order to create awareness to combat the growing prevalence of diabetes. About 463 million people around the world are living with diabetes. This is a staggering leap from the 180 million who had diabetes in 1980. The numbers are estimated to grow to an alarming 629 million in the next 25 years.
Diabetes is essentially a disease that is characterised by the body’s inability to adequately regulate the quantity of sugar in the blood. This is most often caused by a shortage or lack of Insulin enzyme in the body. There are 3 types of diabetes.
Type 1 diabetes:
This is a genetic problem that arises when the immune system attacks the cells that produce Insulin in the Pancreas. People with Type 1 Diabetes will require a daily dose of Insulin injections to survive. This disease is mostly found among young children but could affect anybody.
Type 2 Diabetes:
This is the more common type of Diabetes and can afflict anyone. Risk factors of Type 2 diabetes include evidence of diabetes in family history, obesity or being overweight, sedentary lifestyle. This type of obesity can be healed or reversed by eating better and a lifestyle change.
Occurs in pregnant women and is often reversed after childbirth. However, gestational diabetes increases the risk of Type 2 Diabetes later in life.
Diabetes is such a big issue because the cost of insulin shots keeps rising and it is less accessible in low-income countries. Some statistics place Nigeria as having up to 5% of the world’s population of people living with diabetes. Yet, only 1 in 4 persons living with diabetes has access to medication.
World Diabetes Day 2019; Diabetes and the Family Unit
The most prevalent type of diabetes is the Type 2 Diabetes which is often developed later in life. However, there is overwhelming evidence that type two diabetes can be cured by maintaining a healthy lifestyle over a long period of time. This requires a lot of dedication to the details of diets, exercises and drugs.
The cost of Diabetes healthcare is often borne by the family and could be quite strenuous. The cost of food, medical bills and the other small sacrifices that will be made to cater to a diabetic sometimes leave diabetics out cold when the family cannot cope. Proper education on how these lifestyle changes are good for the entire family and reduce the risk of someone else developing type 2 diabetes will go a long way.
But more than that, better funding needs to be available for such families to be able to take proper care of diabetics.
As this year’s world diabetes day rolls by, here are a few tips on reducing the risk factors.
- Eat healthier and have more fruits and vegetables.
2. Exercise! Exercise!! Exercise!!!
3. Keep your weight in check. While sugar is not directly responsible for diabetes, any lifestyle that can result in weight gain is a contributory risk factor.
4. Any mother that had gestational diabetes is at risk and hence needs to be even more careful with her lifestyle.
We look forward to a future with a healthier nation where we can conveniently treat diabetes and reduce the rates as much as possible.