In a call to action and effort to mobilise South Africans to take charge of their health, Novo Nordisk in partnership with the City of Johannesburg kicked off World Diabetes Day by lighting the Johannesburg Council Chambers blue last night. Today they are hosting a diabetes walk in Maponya Mall to commemorate World Diabetes Day. The public is urged to come to Maponya on this day for free diabetes-, blood pressure-, BMI- and cancer screening.
World diabetes stats
At present, nearly half a billion people are living with diabetes worldwide.2b Africa currently holds the highest ranking in all International Diabetes Federation (IDF) regions with an alarming 69% of adults who have undiagnosed diabetes.2c
Here at home, Statistics South Africa has recorded that diabetes is the second biggest cause of death among South Africans,1 placing it among the populous countries that have the highest numbers of people living with diabetes.2d In 2016, diabetes was alarmingly ranked the leading cause of death amongst women in the country surpassing Tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS to date.1a
According to the World Health Organization 2016 report, being overweight or obese is strongly linked to diabetes. In 2014, more than 1 in 3 adults were overweight and more than 1 in 10 were obese4 and it is paramount that the education around diabetes and its direct link to obesity is spread globally. Africa as it stands, has recorded 0.23 million deaths due to diabetes on people who were below the age of 60 in 2017 alone.2e
The severity of diabetes is widespread across the globe with millions of people losing their lives to the current diabetes pandemic with one dying from the disease every eight seconds that passes.2f
Type 1 and Type 2
There are two main types of diabetes, namely Type 1 and Type 2 which are different conditions, both serious but also very manageable. Type 1 diabetes is a condition characterised by high blood sugar levels. Your body stops making the insulin that would normally control your blood glucose levels and is a life-long condition that has a relatively quick onset, and is usually diagnosed in childhood.5 Type 2 diabetes is similarly characterised by high blood sugar levels but usually starts later in life, typically around middle age or older, and progresses gradually over time.6
The myths surrounding diabetes might prove to be a challenge if left unaddressed, because Type 2 diabetes not only affects older adults, but is now increasingly seen in children, adolescents and young adults due to rising levels of obesity, physical inactivity and poor diet.2h
It is important that people understand the importance of diabetes management and screening because if left untreated or managed poorly, the high levels of blood glucose associated with diabetes can slowly damage both the fine nerves and the small and large blood vessels in the body, resulting in future complications.7
Screening is imperative
It is also concerning that approximately 200 million people do not even know that they have diabetes2i and South Africans are urged to know their risk and get tested by a healthcare professional. Living with diabetes is not a death sentence; one can lead a full and active life with diabetes when the disease is properly managed. Your diabetes care team – including your doctor, nurse, diabetes educator and dietician – can help develop a personalised diabetes care plan.8
Obesity together with poor dietary habits and sedentary lifestyle have become a big factor exacerbating the scourge of diabetes, particularly Type 2 diabetes which is primarily lifestyle related and can be avoided with the necessary healthy adjustments to one’s lifestyle.2j A recent study showed obesity rates among SA children have doubled in the last six years, while this took 13 years to happen in the US.9
A simple lifestyle change like taking a walk every day and eating healthier can assist in delaying the onset of Type 2 diabetes.2k It’s important for every South African to know their risk and take the necessary action to live a better life whether it’s preventative measures and/or management.
- Statistics South Africa: http://www.statssa.gov.za/publications/P03093/P030932016.pdf page 33. Last Accessed 03 October 2018
- Country summary table Africa: Nam Han Cho et al (2017), IDF Diabetes Atlas – page 112. International Diabetes Federation
2a. Country summary table Africa: Nam Han Cho et al (2017), IDF Diabetes Atlas – page 113. International Diabetes Federation
2b. Prevalence* of diabetes and IGT: Nam Han Cho et al (2017), IDF Diabetes Atlas – page 41. International Diabetes Federation
2c Africa: Nam Han Cho et al (2017), IDF Diabetes Atlas – page 68. International Diabetes Federation
2d Africa: Nam Han Cho et al (2017), IDF Diabetes Atlas – page 68. International Diabetes Federation
2e Proportion (%) of people who died from diabetes in 2017 before the age of 60 in IDF regions: Nam Han Cho et al (2017), IDF Diabetes Atlas – page 49. International Diabetes Federation
2f Mortality: Nam Han Cho et al (2017), IDF Diabetes Atlas – page 49. International Diabetes Federation
2h Type 2 diabetes: Nam Han Cho et al (2017), IDF Diabetes Atlas – page 18. International Diabetes Federation
2i Undiagnosed Diabetes: Nam Han Cho et al (2017), IDF Diabetes Atlas – page 47. International Diabetes Federation
2j Recommendations: Nam Han Cho et al (2017), IDF Diabetes Atlas – page 99. International Diabetes Federation
2k Preventing diabetes: Nam Han Cho et al (2017), IDF Diabetes Atlas – page 22. International Diabetes Federation
- F. B. Hu et al., N. Engl. J. Med. 345, 790 (2001).
- World Health Organization. Global Report on Diabetes. 2016.
- Type 1: https://www.novonordisk.com/patients/diabetes-care/type-1.html Last Accessed 31 October 2018
- Type 2: https://www.novonordisk.com/patients/diabetes-care/type-2.html Last Accessed 31 October 2018
- Is diabetes serious? https://www.diabetessa.org.za/about-diabetes/ Last Accessed 03 October 2018
- Living with diabetes: http://www.novonordisk-us.com/patients-and-providers/diabetes/living-with-diabetes.html Last Accessed 4 October 2018
- Obesity in young South Africans doubles in six years