Focusing on diabetes for World Health Day

Diabetes, World Health Day

This year marks the 70th Anniversary of World Health Day, and with this in mind Ethos Health has created a short guide to prevent one of the top 6 chronic disease killers. Diabetes killed 1.6 million people in 2015, up from less than 1 million in 2000.

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is diagnosed when the body is not able to properly regulate the amount of glucose (sugar) in the blood. There are three main types of diabetes and all of them are managed by following a healthy lifestyle, including healthy eating and regular physical activity.

Type 1 Diabetes
…usually starts in children and young people under the age of 30 
In Type 1 diabetes the immune system destroys the cells in the pancreas which make the insulin. Therefore people with Type 1 diabetes cannot make insulin and need to have insulin injections right from the start. Type 1 diabetes cannot be prevented and there is no cure. 
Type 2 Diabetes 
…usually develops in older people and begins gradually 
In Type 2 diabetes, some insulin is still produced, but it does not work properly. Most cases of diabetes are Type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is managed by diet and exercise, and some people may need tablets or insulin as diabetes progresses. In overweight individuals, weight loss usually improves management of Type 2 diabetes and sometimes reverses its progression. 
Gestational Diabetes 
…some women get gestational diabetes during pregnancy
Gestational diabetes is diagnosed when higher than normal blood glucose levels first appear during pregnancy. After the baby is born, most women will no longer have diabetes, however, women with gestational diabetes are at higher risk of developing Type 2 diabetes in later life.

Why focus on diabetes this year for World Health Day?

1. Diabetes is recognised as the world’s fastest growing chronic condition

  • The number of people with Type 2 diabetes is growing in each country
  • The number of adults with diabetes has almost quadrupled since 1980 to 422 million adults
  • In 2015, diabetes caused 1.6 million deaths globally
  • High blood glucose levels contribute to an additional 2.2 million deaths, mainly by increasing the risk of heart disease
  • 12% of global health expenditure is spent on diabetes (USD$673 billion)

2. A large proportion of diabetes cases are preventable

  • Factors driving this dramatic rise include overweight and obesity
  • Lifestyle measures are extremely effective for preventing, delaying or reversing the onset of Type 2 diabetes
  • Maintaining normal body weight, engaging in regular physical activity and eating a healthy diet can reduce the risk of diabetes

3. Diabetes is treatable

  • Diabetes can be controlled and managed to prevent complications
  • Increasing access to self-management education is an important component

Learn More: Beating Diabetes – Mick’s Story


If diabetes is not detected early and managed well, the health consequences are dire

  • A diabetes specialist can tell you how serious the complications of diabetes are when nothing is done
  • Diabetes can damage the heart, blood vessels, kidneys, eyes and nerves. Its complications can lead to heart attack, stroke, blindness, kidney failure and lower limb amputation
  • These things greatly impact on our ability to have a job and participate in the things we enjoy. For example, lower limb amputation rates are from 10 to 20 times higher among people with diabetes

Early detection of diabetes is extremely important, so look out for these signs of diabetes (and high blood glucose):

  • Increased thirst
  • Feeling tired and lethargic
  • Having cuts that heal slowly
  • Blurred vision
  • Headaches
  • Pain or tingling in the legs or feet
  • Going to the toiletmoreoften, especially at night
  • Always feeling hungry
  • Itching, skin infections or rashes
  • Moodswings
  • Feeling dizzy

Diabetes prevention is proven, possible, and powerful

  • Diabetes is primarily lifestyle related and it is preventable
  • Studies show that people at high risk for diabetes can prevent or delay the onset of the disease by losing 5-7% of their weight, if they are overweight – that’s 5-7kgs if you are 100kgs

Key to success:

  • Get at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity five days a week
  • Eat a variety of foods that are low in fat and reduce the number of calories you eat per day
  • Small changes like cutting out biscuits with morning tea, swapping from juice to water and parking the car further to include a short walk can make a big difference

Learn More: What are the benefits of exercise if you have Type 2 Diabetes?


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