Knowing Diabetes Risk Factors

An important interview with our Access Drs’ Endocrinologist, Dr Jenny Ng.

How has the global prevalence of diabetes evolved over the years, and what trends do you see in terms of its impact on public health?
Diabetes is a serious health disorder which ranks among the top ten causes of death in adults. Over half a billion people are living with diabetes world- wide and the global prevalence is increasing. Diabetes is now recognised as the fasted growing chronic health condition in the world. It is a leading cause of blindness, kidney failure, amputations and cardiovascular disease. The financial burden on health care systems is huge. Aging, obesogenic environments, and a rapid increase in urbanisation are important contributors to the alarming increase in the prevalence particularly of type 2 diabetes.

World Diabetes Day often focuses on the importance of early diagnosis and prevention. Could you discuss the key risk factors for diabetes and the role of early intervention in managing the condition?
Risk factors for type 2 diabetes include family history, increasing age, ethnicity, polycystic ovary syndrome and gestational diabetes. Modifiable risk factors include carrying extra weight, physical inactivity, and unhealthy eating habits which lead to high cholesterol and abdominal obesity and high blood pressure. Type 2 diabetes is preventable with weight optimisation through healthy food choices and regular physical activity. Screening of high risk individuals, early intervention and aggressive blood sugar control is essential to prevent diabetes complications.

What are some key takeaways you would like the general public to remember and act upon as a result of World Diabetes Day?
Type 2 diabetes is preventable. As little as 5% weight loss can prevent or delay progression from pre-diabetes to diabetes. Increasing diabetes awareness and screening of people with diabetes risk factors will enable early intervention to reduce the burden of diabetes complications.

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