To create awareness of what the WHO considers will be the seventh greatest cause of death by 2030, the International Diabetes Federation named today World Diabetes Day. This day is designed to raise awareness of what is, in many cases, a fully preventable disease that kills 1.6 million people a year and threatens 422 million all over the world.
According to the OECD, 16 percent of Mexicans currently suffer from diabetes and 305,000 of these patients died from this disease in 2014. With Mexico’s aging population and growing obesity rate, these numbers are only expected to worsen. “In terms of obesity, the statistics we have are very high, so there is a high chance the penetration of diabetes will rise to 40 percent,” says Gabriela Allard, Director of the Mexican Association of Diabetes (AMD).
TYPE 2: A HEALTH EPIDEMIC
According to WHO, 90 percent of diabetes cases belong to the Type 2 classification, also called insulin-resistant diabetes, while the remaining 10 percent are Type 1, sometimes referred to as juvenile diabetes. Although the causes for Type 1 diabetes are still under investigation, doctors and health organizations all over the world agree that Type 2 diabetes can be controlled and even prevented in many cases.
While genetic and environmental factors also play an important role, one of the major predictors of Type 2 diabetes is obesity, measured by WHO as a body mass index over 30kg/m2. Type 2 diabetes is also closely associated with metabolic syndrome, a series of conditions including high blood pressure, cholesterol and triglycerides. Diabetes is also a leading cause of liver failure and blindness. Some of the symptoms of Type 2 diabetes include blurry vision, unexplained weight loss, wounds that will not heal and constant thirst and urination.
If left unattended, diabetes might cause diabetes nephropathy (permanent damage to the liver that might lead to chronic kidney disease), diabetes retinopathy (damage to the blood vessels in the retina) and diabetes-related foot ulcers. This last problem is exacerbated by the diabetic body’s inability to heal itself and is often followed by infections that might lead to amputation.
Type 2 diabetes can be prevented by changes in habits such as a reduced intake of sugar, more physical activity and weight loss. If the disease is detected in time, it can be controlled and its more severe effects reduced or even fully avoided.
However, many are not aware of their diabetes until it is too late. A common diagnosis for diabetes is blood sugar tests, which can now be obtained in almost every Mexican laboratory and many pharmacies. A fasting blood sugar level from 100-125mg/dL is referred to as prediabetes and higher than 126mg/dL could be an indicator of diabetes.
So, on World Diabetes Day, have you thought about your blood sugar?
Sources: WHO, International Diabetes Federation, OECD and AMD.