Beat Diabetes was the theme of this year’s World Health Day, April 7th, 2016. Corresponding with this, the World Health Organization published the Global Report on Diabetes to increase awareness and as a further call to action. The report calls for increasing physical activity and healthy eating from a very young age to decrease the incidence of Type 2 diabetes. This population-based approach includes regulatory measures to improve global nutrition, recognizing the significant impact this has on the diabetes epidemic.
This same week, the Lancet published the NCD Risk-Factor Collaboration report that looked at over 750 studies that measured either fasting blood sugar or hemoglobin A-1C, studies including over 4 million people. Unfortunately, the report is not positive. They estimate that the incidence of diabetes has increased four-fold from 1980 to 2014, which encompasses over 400 million people with diabetes on the planet. The vast majority of these cases, over 80%, are Type 2 Diabetes. Many of these people live with diabetes either without knowledge or education, often without medications for treatment. The study notes that reducing the global impact of diabetes will require substantial response from the world’s governments and health care systems.
Obesity and physical inactivity are clearly primarily responsible for the worldwide diabetes burden. Addressing diet and lifestyle changes in a structured self-management program, which can be delivered to millions of people, seems overwhelming but is urgently needed.
As health care providers, we need to be vocal proponents of programs that encourage healthier nutrition and lifestyle changes in our own communities. This should include every patient receiving education and guidance on improving their physical activity as well as nutritional advice. Outside of the clinic, we should be supporters of investments in our community to improve physical activity, such as proposed by “whole-of-community” programs like the Toronto Charter for Physical Activity.
Let’s be proactive in our personal and professional spheres of influence to be part of the solution.
WHO Global Report on Diabetes: see http://www.who.int/diabetes/global-report
Toronto Charter for Physical Activity: A Global Call to Action
Krug, EG. Trends in Diabetes: sounding the alarm. The Lancet, 06 April 2016
NCD Risk Factor Collaboration. Worldwide trends in diabetes since 1980: a pooled analysis of 751 population-based studies with 4.4 million participants. Lancet 2016