World Health Day is on April 7 and this year the focus is on beating diabetes. This global epidemic has gained alarming proportions. About 350 million people worldwide have diabetes, and WHO predicts that the number may double within the next two decades. The American Diabetes Association reports that diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States.
The goals of World Health Day 2016 are
- to increase awareness about the rise in diabetes, and its staggering burden and consequences
- to trigger a set of specific, effective and affordable actions to tackle this chronic medical condition
- to take steps to prevent diabetes and diagnose and treat and care for people with diabetes
Type 1 diabetes is caused by genetics. Type 2 diabetes accounts for around 90% of all diabetes worldwide, affecting even children. It comes with risk of complications such as heart and blood vessel disease, diabetic neuropathy or nerve damage, kidney, eye and foot damage, hearing impairment, skin conditions and Alzheimer’s disease.
The good news is that type 2 diabetes is preventable. Simple lifestyle measures such as weight control, regular physical activity, and a healthy diet can reduce the risks of diabetes or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes. In fact, experts say that just thirty minutes of moderate-intensity exercise on a regular basis and healthy dietary habits can significantly reduce the risk of developing the condition.
One of the goals of World Health Day 2016 is to increase awareness and promote actions to tackle diabetes. Lack awareness increases the risk of diabetes, according to a study published last year by researchers at the Philadelphia VA Medical Center. Experts recommend that regardless of symptoms, tests for pre-diabetes should be a part of the regular physical for people who are overweight, have a family history of type 2 diabetes, have high blood pressure and/or high cholesterol, and are over the age of 45.
People with diabetes should know that effective treatment is available to control and manage the condition and prevent/minimize complications. Self-management education is an important element of the response.
Health care centers in New York and across the nation will hold special programs to observe World Health Day. It’s never too late to begin leading a healthy lifestyle and caring for your body to prevent chronic conditions like diabetes. If you are overweight, enroll in a weight loss program. Making simple changes in your lifestyle will go a long way to enhancing your overall health and quality of life. Happy World Health Day!