Thursday, April 18, 2024

WORLD DIABETES DAY: Protect Your Family


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World Diabetes Day started in 1991, an initiative between the International Diabetes Federation and the World Health Organisation in response to the threat the disease presented.

It became an official United Nations Day in 2006 and is marked on November 14, the birthday of Sir Frederick Banting, who along with Charles Best, discovered insulin in 1922.

The theme for 2019 is Family and Diabetes.

What is diabetes?

Diabetes occurs when the pancreas cannot make insulin or the body can’t make good use of the insulin it produces.

Insulin is a hormone that “acts like a key to let glucose from the food we eat pass from the blood stream into the cells in the body to produce energy”.

All carbohydrates like bread, rice and potatoes break down into glucose and if the body is not able to utilise insulin, it can lead to increased glucose levels or hyperglycaemia.

Types of Diabetes

There are three types of diabetes.

Type 1 or juvenile onset diabetes may affect people of all ages, but usually occurs in children or young adults. The body’s defence system attacks the cells that produce insulin and those with this disease have to take insulin daily or they will die.

Type 2 diabetes represents 90 per cent of the cases and it is non-insulin dependent. This can occur at any age and is characterised by insulin resistance or insulin deficiency. It may be undetected for many years, only showing during a blood or urine test.  

The third form is gestational diabetes where high blood glucose levels occur during pregnancy. It can cause complications in both mother and child, but usually disappears after delivery. However, both the mother and child are at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes later.

Risk Factors

Several risk factors are associated with Type 2 diabetes:

Family history of diabetes


Unhealthy diet

Physical inactivity

Increasing age

High blood pressure


Impaired glucose tolerance

History of gestational diabetes

Poor nutrition during pregnancy

One in two people currently living with diabetes are undiagnosed and the majority have Type 2 diabetes.

Left untreated, it can lead to amputations, blindness, kidney failure, stroke and heart attack.

Source: International Diabetes Federation


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