Diabetes mellitus, dubbed the “silent killer,” is a public health concern that affects a whopping 20% of Malaysian adults over the age of 30. Not only have we been crowned the fattest country in Asia in 2014, Malaysia currently has the highest rate of diabetics in Asia; it is hardly surprising given the close association between diabetes and obesity. Also, not to mention the myriad of complications diabetes causes in the long run – heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, blindness and foot problems that may result in amputation – this disease is debilitating and a “killer” if left untreated.
One of the biggest risk factors for diabetes is excessive weight. Statistics show that more than 80% of patients with diabetes are overweight or obese. The exact reason why those overweight develop diabetes is unknown but their cells have somehow become more resistant to insulin. As the pancreas overworks to produce more insulin to help cells take up sugars, overtime it wears out and when it can no longer keep up with insulin production, type II diabetes sets in.
This is why maintaining a healthy weight is crucial in preventing diabetes. Most preventative measures does impact weight management in one way or another, and a key measure is recommending one to choose a healthy diet. This includes increasing one’s intake of vegetables and fruits, reducing refined carbohydrates and sugars and reducing sugary drinks.
Instead of eating out, make your own meals so you can choose healthier ingredients. Also, to prevent overeating, eat slower to feel fuller faster and avoid eating in front of the television or computer to make sure you are not distracted from your meal. Most importantly, educate the young about the foods they eat and encourage them to choose healthier options.
Physical activity is another crucial step in preventing diabetes. Studies suggest that being active helps reduce the risk of the young from developing diabetes in the long run because physical activity helps reduce the accumulation of risk factors that lead to cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.
Youths are recommended to have at least 60 minutes of physical activity per day while adults are recommended to have at least 150-300 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity per week. Some ways to help the younger ones become more physically active include encouraging them to pick up a sport, limiting screen time, doing physical activities as a family such as taking walks together and getting them involved with house chores.
Other preventative measures that are important include getting enough sleep and quitting smoking. Most adults require around 7-9 hours of sleep per night. Too much or too little sleep may increase one’s risk for metabolic syndrome, a group of health conditions which includes elevated fasting sugar levels, high blood pressures, high bad cholesterols and bigger waistlines.
Also, if you do smoke, do consider quitting. Smokers are have shown to have a higher risk of developing diabetes (and a long list of other health problems) in comparison to non-smokers.
Diabetes produces early symptoms that are often nonspecific and unnoticeable until it is much too late. Its “silence” is probably why nearly half of those with diabetes do not even know they have the condition. A disease that is supposed to be more common amongst middle aged adults and the elderly is now plaguing our younger generation at an alarming rate.
Therefore, action should begin from an early age. Habits are hard to break and should we introduce healthy life choices early enough, the more likely they will stick in the long run. To know more about diabetes do visit our website at Doctoroncall.