Abu Dhabi, November 2013: More than 17,000 people are expected to join Imperial College London Diabetes Centre and the National Health Insurance Company - Daman for the nation’s leading annual walkathon, Walk 2013 on Friday November 15.
In a fun-filled afternoon, family, friends, class mates and team members will walk the five kilometre route around Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina Circuit and experience the benefits of exercise in healthy living.
Now in its seventh year, Walk 2013 is part of Imperial College London Diabetes Centre’s public health awareness campaign ‘Diabetes-Knowledge-Action, under the patronage of Her Highness Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak. The campaign is committed to encouraging people to adopt a healthy lifestyle with a 30-minute brisk walk each day.
Doors open at 2pm. Walk starts at 5pm. Entry Ticket Dhs 10. www.diabetesuae.ae and www.facebook.com/DiabetesUAE
World Diabetes Day – an Introduction
World Diabetes Day (WDD) is celebrated every year on November 14. The World Diabetes Day campaign is led by the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) and its member associations. World Diabetes Day was created in 1991 by the International Diabetes Federation and the World Health Organization in response to growing concerns about the escalating health threat that diabetes now poses.
World Diabetes Day became an official United Nations Day in 2007 with the passage of United Nation Resolution 61/225. The campaign draws attention to issues of paramount importance to the diabetes world and keeps diabetes firmly in the public spotlight.
ICLDC is leading the efforts on prevention and education in the UAE, for the year 2013 too. Start Walking. is selected as the theme of the nation’s longest running health awareness initiative, now in its seventh year. Individuals, groups and organisations nationwide can easily take part in ICLDC’s Start Walking. initiative by creating regular walking routes, forming walking groups and events.
Indeed, more than half a dozen activities such as ‘Mini-walks’ and ‘Take The Stairs Day’ have taken place in the past month alone, with around 350 participants notching up more than 3 million steps, placing the spotlight on the fact that a balanced diet and a daily walk can help manage and even prevent diabetes.
In November, the campaign’s hero event, Walk 2013 powered by Daman, takes place at Yas Marina Circuit on November 15, with more than 17,000 participants expected to pace up to five kilometres clocking up more than 60,000,000 steps!
Early detection of diabetes leads to prevention of diabetes
Abu Dhabi UAE November 2013: According to the International Diabetes Federation’s Diabetes Atlas in 2012, around half of the estimated 371 million people with diabetes
worldwide were unaware they had it.
According to ICLDC specialists early detection of pre-diabetes can lead to the prevention of diabetes, and with the implementation of lifestyle changes can greatly reduce the risk of related complications, including blindness, heart attack and stroke.
A simple test for diabetes would determine its presence, or not. The advantage of a compulsory testing system is that patients who play down the early symptoms can easily help
their doctor to determine their risks at a very early stage.
Good health maintenance is as simple and as smart as managing a balanced diet and taking some moderate, regular exercise.
Top Tips For A Healthy Lifestyle
- Avoid weight gain
- Exercise is very important –30-minutes of moderate exercise a day, 5 days per week
- Walking briskly for 30-minutes each day is effective in diabetes prevention
- A healthy diet is crucial – avoid excess of fried and sugar-filled foods
Regular exercise reduces the risk for diabetes by 58%
Abu Dhabi UAE November 2013: According to the specialists in ICLDC, regular exercise can help reduce the risk of developing diabetes by 58 per cent.
Exercise is known to contribute enormous benefits to health, and is an important contributor to a healthy lifestyle, alongside a balanced diet. Brisk walking for 30 minutes a day reduces a person’s chances of developing diabetes, and exercise and a sensible diet can be the best way to minimise the risks and lead a healthy lifestyle.
According to the International Diabetes Federation’s Diabetes Atlas in 2012, around half of the estimated 371 million people with diabetes worldwide were unaware they had it.
A quick list of health benefits of regular physical activity:
- Overall improvement of body composition (less fat, increased lean muscle mass)
- Better blood glucose control
- Increase in insulin sensitivity
- Improvement of blood lipid values (lower LDL ‘bad’ cholesterol, increased HDL ‘good’ cholesterol)
- Decrease in blood pressure
- Decrease risk of heart disease
- Gradual weight loss and/or weight management in combination with dietary management
- Building stronger muscles and bones
Lifestyle modifications can prevent diabetes; Childhood obesity is increasing fast but still manageable with the right choices
Abu Dhabi, November 2013: According to the specialists at ICLDC just one per cent reduction in weight reduces the risk of premature death.
Extra body weight encourages the onset of diabetes, cardiovascular disease and heart attack.
ICLDC emphasises that weight control and the management of obesity levels are crucial lifestyle environmental factors that can help create healthier nations.
Obesity in children is a very new phenomenon that is fast gaining pace in the UAE as well as the region and indeed at global scale.
Excess calorie availability is the factor that drives obesity in children. This again leads back to managing lifestyle, this time in family groups.
Read food labels; ICLDC suggests simple tips for smart food shopping
Abu Dhabi UAE November 2013: Eating healthy starts by buying healthy and the art is in knowing what to pop into your shopping basket, according to lifestyle experts at Abu Dhabi’s Imperial College London Diabetes Centre (ICLDC). They suggest that reading food labels can help enhance wise food choices and go a long way to contributing towards a healthy diet.
Mealtimes start at the supermarket, and knowing the nutritional facts, help make smart purchasing decisions and reading food labels is a great way to help make healthier eating
Tips to get label-savvy
- If you have a hard time understanding food labels, do let your doctor know.
- Your physician can help you better understand labels and read information
- Learn simple ways to avoid certain ingredients and substitute with healthier options
Get More Exercise in A Working Day; ICLDC specialists encourage simple tips to stay more active
Abu Dhabi UAE November 2013: ICLDC’s lifestyle specialists suggest that a healthy lifestyle is generally characterised as a ‘balanced life’ in which you make the ‘right choices’ for good health and well-being, while achieving a balance between work-play-life.
In UAE, busy professionals spend long days at the desk and often struggle to find dedicated time for exercise. However it is easier than what you think to keep active.
Seven steps to bring exercise into your normal day.
- Take the stairs. Start slowly and gradually with two flights at a time and refrain from pushing yourself too hard during the initial stages
- Instead of standing on escalators, climb it. It is possible!
- Go out for a short walk before breakfast and after dinner, or both!
- The weather is good, so walk to the store instead of driving
- Park farther away from your office or home, and walk the extra distance.
- Carry your walking shoes and change your shoes to walk around as you get a chance e.g. do your grocery shopping before going home or a quick trip to the shopping mall in evening
- Use the exercise equipment you bought, now!
- Aim to spend time outdoors, at least twice a week
- Make the best of the good weather and spend time on activities such as running or brisk walking, remembering that a 30-minute brisk walk is an easy, effective way towards fitness
- Form or join a walking group with your family, friends or neighbours and motivate each other
- Plan playtime on the beach
Plan a morning exercise routine. An evening exercise routine is proven to be difficult to maintain during holidays, which are usually full of night-time social gatherings!
ICLDC’s Public Health Awareness Campaign, ‘Diabetes-Knowledge-Action’
Abu Dhabi UAE November 2013: Launched in 2007 under the patronage of Her Highness Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, ‘Diabetes-Knowledge-Action’ is the multi-faceted public health awareness campaign from Imperial College London Diabetes Centre.
The campaign’s main aim is to communicate how easy it is to maintain a healthy lifestyle by adopting a balanced diet and taking a 30-minute brisk walk each day.
The campaign presently has four pillars:
- Eat for Life invites children, parents and carers to consider what they eat by taking part in a variety of interactive sessions, including one that considers the contents of a healthy lunchbox.
- Cook for Life looks to inspire families to cook balanced meals using special recipes, as well as tuning in to our long-running healthy cook show and attending healthy cookery demonstrations.
- Play for Life promotes regular exercise for healthy living to corporate teams through events such as the annual Football Tournament and the Play for Life Fitness Challenge.
- Walk for Life encourages a 30-minute brisk walk each day, and hosts an annual community walkathon which attracts thousands of participants.
- Now in its seventh year, more than 17,000 people are expected to join in the nation’s leading annual Walk 2013 on November 15, to pace the five kilometre main walk around Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina Circuit.
Diabetes in the UAE
Abu Dhabi UAE November 2013: The prevalence of diabetes per capita has been steadily rising in the UAE over recent years. According to the International Diabetes Federation’s World Diabetes Atlas 2012, the UAE is ranked eleventh highest worldwide, with 18.9 per cent of the population living with diabetes.
According to ICLDC specialists there seems to be a genetic predisposition to the disease among UAE nationals and statistics show that they have a higher prevalence than other nationalities within the UAE.
However, tendencies towards an inactive lifestyle, weight gain, an imbalanced diet and/or a lack of exercise seem to be major contributors.
Research is on-going with the overriding aim to help explain why diabetes occurs at such high levels in the country. This will also help instigate preventative measures.
Statistics on Diabetes
2012 figures from the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) suggest that 371 million people are living with diabetes, worldwide. In the UAE diabetes currently affects 18.9 per cent of the population, placing the nation eleventh worldwide for countries with the highest diabetes prevalence.
It is also important to note that diabetes is a regional challenge. Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait and Qatar all feature in the top ten countries worldwide, in the 2012 figures. These statistics indicate that the region has high risk factors for diabetes, mostly related to rising obesity rates and physical inactivity.
What is it about the Gulf region that is causing such high rates of diabetes?
Rapid economic growth, sedentary lifestyle and unhealthy diet have all contributed to increased obesity and have fuelled diabetes prevalence in the region. However, there seems
to be a genetic predisposition to the disease in the Gulf region.
Through research we hope to determine why diabetes occurs at such high levels in the UAE and instigate further preventative measures.
But we should remember that the risk may be lessened if one leads a healthy lifestyle.
An increased rate of diabetes among expatriates in the region as opposed to in their countries of origin indicates that genes are not the only factor in play and that environment (lack of exercise with a high fat, high sugar diet) plays a major role as well. It is important that ICLDC and other regional stakeholders in society help to educate region-wide populations on the management and prevention of diabetes.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are some of the symptoms that could indicate diabetes?
Usual symptoms include thirst, passing urine frequently and tiredness. However, these symptoms often have other non-worrying causes. Many people have diabetes without having any symptoms and without knowing they have it. This is why it is so important for people to have screening tests if they are at risk.
What causes diabetes?
Diabetes is a condition that is characterised by an above normal level of glucose (sugar) in the blood. It is also characterised by either a relative or absolute deficiency of insulin. This is because the pancreas does not make enough insulin or insulin becomes ineffective.
Insulin, a hormone generated in the pancreas, normally controls blood sugar levels and allows the glucose to enter the cells in the body to provide energy. In type 2 diabetes resistance to insulin is aggravated by obesity. In people with diabetes, high levels of glucose remain in the bloodstream causing hyperglycaemia (high blood sugar).
Those at increased risk include individuals who have a history of diabetes in their family, people over 40, those who are overweight or obese and inactive individuals. Many people with type 2 diabetes are overweight and obese and this is an important factor in causing diabetes.
How does being obese put one at risk for diabetes?
Obesity is widely regarded as the number one risk factor for type 2 diabetes. Extra body weight means a higher risk of insulin resistance, because fat interferes with the body's ability to use insulin.
Weight gain results in an increase in fat inside the abdomen – the so-called “visceral fat” that cannot be seen or felt. The presence of this fat changes the metabolism of the body to predispose it to the metabolic syndrome, which includes diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure
How many people are believed to have diabetes but are undiagnosed?
According to the International Diabetes Federation’s Diabetes Atlas in 2012, around half of the estimated 371 million people with diabetes worldwide were unaware they had it. There is a similar trend in the UAE as the IDF estimates that just under half of the people with diabetes are unaware that they are sufferers.
Is there a link between obese children and diabetes? And what should parents do?
Yes. There is an increased risk of developing diabetes with obesity – and this also includes children. The most important thing parents can do is to encourage their children to lead a very active lifestyle with regular exercise. This can be anything from playing a sport regularly to a simple daily 30 minute brisk walk or even doing a household chore.
Parents must ensure that their children have a healthy diet which includes low fat and nutrient-rich foods like fruits and vegetables. At the same time parents should limit sugary foods and drinks like sweets, chocolate and fizzy drinks.
If you’re worried that your child may be overweight and at risk of developing type 2 diabetes you should see your doctor or dietician and they will be able to advise you how to best to manage your child’s weight and general health.