Diabetes is a worldwide public health problem. In 2013, the number of diabetic adults reached a total of 380 million. By 2035, the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) estimates that this will rise to over 592 million.
In the Philippines, 1 out of 5 Filipino adults or an estimated 11 million either have prediabetes or diabetes. The disease affects the lives of 9.7 percent of the adult population.
The Department of Health (DOH) said diabetes is the 8th leading cause of disease-related death in the country. Cardiovascular diseases are the major cause of death accounting for approximately half of all diabetes fatalities.
Filipinos are considered at high risk for diabetes for the simple reason that the Filipino diet is made up of high levels of sugar. Experts said we are a carbohydrate-loading nation, whose staple meals include rice, bread, sweet potato, corn, and other sugary foods.
The cost of treating diabetes is huge and this economic burden is shared by many countries. In 2013, the IDF said an estimated $465 billion was spent worldwide treating diabetes and its related conditions.
Diabetes mellitus (DM), more commonly known as diabetes, refers to a group of diseases that affect how the body uses blood glucose or blood sugar. Glucose is vital to health because it is an important source of energy for cells that make up muscles and tissues. Elevated glucose or blood sugar levels, however, are bad and can lead to diabetes.
The IDF said that unless rapid action is taken, one person in 10 will have diabetes by 2030. Type-2 diabetes, also known as “adult-onset diabetes”, comprises 90 percent of total diabetes cases and is largely due to excess body weight, obesity and lack of physical activity.
This type of diabetes is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Those with Type-2 diabetes are twice as likely to suffer a heart attack or stroke. In addition, diabetes places people at greater risk for kidney failure, blindness, lower-limb amputations and death.
The World Health Organization (WHO) said that a substantial proportion of newly referred cases of diabetes already have evidence of the micro-vascular complications of the disease. Screening of newly-diagnosed diabetic patients in Manila showed a high prevalence of diabetic complications and cardiovascular risk factors. For this reason, WHO said that a screening program to detect diabetes and even pre-diabetes must be initiated.
Diabetes not only affects blood health but other body parts as well. Here is a rundown of the damage it does:
Cardiovascular diseases – Diabetes can cause heart problems – the leading cause of death in the Philippines, according to the DOH. People with diabetes have a higher than average risk of having a heart attack or stroke. In fact, the American Diabetes Association (ADA) said that 2 out of 3 people with diabetes die from heart disease or stroke.
Eye complications – The disease is the leading cause of vision loss in adults of working age. Fourteen percent of people with diabetes have diabetic macular edema while 25 percent of people with diabetic macular edema will develop moderate vision loss.
Kidney disease – This occurs in approximately one third of diabetics. Kidney failure typically occurs after 20 – 30 years of diabetes.
Nerve damage – Nerve damage from diabetes is called diabetic neuropathy. About half of all people with diabetes have some form of nerve damage. The ADA said this is more common in those who have had the disease for a number of years.
High blood pressure (hypertension) – This happens when blood moves through the vessels with too much force. The heart works harder when blood pressure is high and this increases a person’s risk for heart disease. The ADA said high blood pressure raises the risk for heart attack, stroke, eye problems and kidney disease.
Skin complications – People with diabetes easily develop skin problems. These include bacterial infections, fungal infections and itching.
In diabetes, lowering high blood sugar is not enough. Experts said patients and other high-risk groups should be educated about the disease and its complications. Medical stakeholders should formulate new guidelines to manage the disease and physicians should be more vigilant in diagnosing and helping diabetic Filipinos.
Lifestyle intervention, including specialized nutrition, can delay or prevent the onset of prediabetes in those at risk and may slow the progression for people with diabetes. Abbott Nutrition Philippines (ANP) is responding to the growing worldwide diabetes epidemic with the introduction of Glucerna Triple Care, a specialized nutrition product for people with prediabetes and diabetes.
“Based on our 20-year history of creating science-based nutritional products specifically for the diabetes community, we are excited to introduce the most advanced specialized nutrition product, Glucerna Triple Care, now available in the Philippines to help the 10.6 million Filipinos at risk for diabetes and those affected by diabetes” said Dr. Rodolfo Dimaano Jr., ANP medical director.
“Glucerna Triple Care offers an unparalleled combination with three key benefits – it’s clinically proven to manage blood sugar levels while supporting heart health and weight management for those with prediabetes and diabetes,” he concluded.