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We all have a role to play in tackling diabetes

Diabetespatiënt bij arts
Diabetespatiënt bij arts

Diabetes is a growing global epidemic that concerns every family. Over 425 million people are currently living with diabetes and this number is set to rise. From parents of a child with type 1 diabetes, to people caring for an older family member with complications caused by the condition, the impact of diabetes is all around us.

Healthcare systems and governments across the world are struggling to cope with the sheer volume of people who need support and treatment. Ensuring a timely and accurate diagnosis and providing appropriate care for all people with diabetes is essential to prevent potentially life-threatening health complications. Diabetes is a leading cause of heart attack, stroke, kidney failure, blindness and lower-limb amputation.

Type 1 diabetes cannot be cured or prevented and must be treated with insulin. Type 2 diabetes accounts for the majority (around 90 per cent) of all diabetes globally. Yet its symptoms may not be apparent and often go unnoticed. Our estimates suggest that half of people currently living with diabetes are undiagnosed. Knowing what to look out for is therefore very important. Preventing or delaying the serious long-term health issues associated with diabetes begins with an accurate and early diagnosis.

The majority of type 2 diabetes can be prevented through simple lifestyle measures such as regular physical activity and a healthy diet. It may sound easy, but it’s not. The sprawling urban environments of our megacities have deprived many of readily accessible and safe places to exercise. And, all too often the healthy option for is not the most affordable option for the family budget. Unsurprisingly, then, many families need support to make healthier choices.

Action to facilitate and encourage individuals and families to live healthier lives is essential. Governments should adopt a health-in-all-policies approach to secure the best possible quality of life for all individuals and families and lower the risk of type 2 diabetes.

Diabetes has an impact on all age groups, regardless of geography and income. Any person can develop the condition, but some people are more susceptible than others. That is why the International Diabetes Federation is urging people to learn more about their risk of type 2 diabetes and, if required, to seek the advice of a healthcare professional. A simple online tool is available at https://www.worlddiabetesday.org/prevent.

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