Health & Wellbeing

World Health Day 2016: Raising awareness of Type 2 diabetes

Heart logo with fruit in the centre blue background

World Health Day is an annual event that aims to raise awareness of serious health issues that are prevalent in our society.  On April 7th the six regions in the World Health Organisation (WHO) will be focusing on Type 2 diabetes and generating awareness of how we can prevent the condition. 

Approximately 350 million people in the world have diabetes, a number which is likely to more than double over the next 20 years. Diabetes occurs when the pancreas doesn’t produce enough insulin, or it does not know how to use it effectively. Insulin regulates blood sugar levels, which in turn creates the energy we need to live on. If insulin can’t get into our cells to be used as energy, then our blood sugar levels rise to harmful levels. Over time, high blood sugar levels can seriously damage every major organ in the body, causing heart attacks, strokes, nerve damage, kidney failure, blindness, impotence, infections that can lead to amputations and death. 

There are 2 forms of the diabetes. People with type 1 diabetes usually don’t make any of their own insulin and therefore require insulin injections to survive, this is something they deal with from an early age and it is usually not affected by lifestyle factors. However 90% of cases are people with type 2 diabetes, where the person usually produces their own insulin, but not enough or they are unable to use it properly. People with type 2 diabetes are typically overweight and sedentary, which raise their insulin needs. Diabetes has been strongly linked with an unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, and socioeconomic disadvantage and over 80% of diabetes deaths happen in middle and low income countries. In Europe alone, 64 million people over the age of 18 have been diagnosed with the condition, while diabetes was responsible for 9% of total health expenditure in the year 2015, equivalent to 156 billion USD, the International Diabetes Federation estimates. 

Considering these statistics, it hardly comes as a surprise that the condition would be the focus of World Health Day. The Diabetes epidemic is increasing at a dramatic rate and leading to thousands of preventable deaths every year, yet health officials state that 80% of Type 2 diabetes are avoidable and changes to your lifestyle can prevent or delay the onset of the condition.

 In a previous article we discussed that a 3% fat loss could be enough to prevent the onset of diabetes in very high risk patients, who are overweight or obese. The research also implied that maintaining weight loss could reverse the risk of diabetes for good, so as long as at risk patients keep weight off for the rest of their lives they should stay diabetes free. WHO are urging people to use the day to spread the messages; Eat Healthy, Be Active and Follow Medical Advice to beat diabetes.

Eat healthy 

A healthy and nutritious diet is the key to long term weight loss. We must arm ourselves with a diet rich in vitamins, nutrients, essential fats, protein and carbohydrates. Most of us are aware that we should be cutting out fast food, sugary drinks and sweets in order to get a healthier diet, but many of us still consume hidden sugars in cereals, sauces, fruit juices and other products so it is important to always check the label and never choose something just because it’s labelled as diet or ‘good for you’. 

Be Active 

There couldn’t be a better week to promote being more active, as the World Day for Physical Activity falls just before World Health Day. Although this day encourages people of all ages to participate in physical activity, this years’ theme is ‘Active Child: Healthy Adult’ which is a philosophy we support at Amaven. We believe that children should develop a love of physical activity and sports from an early age to improve their chances of staying active during adulthood.  

It’s easy to blame technology for our sedentary behaviour, some children are too engrossed in their IPad to play outside, and the majority of jobs are office based which involves sitting at a desk all day. However, technology is actually creating lots of opportunities to be more active, including apps to track your exercise, active games and workout plans that people wouldn’t have access to without technology. If we are going to encourage people to be more active, we should be incorporating technology into our physical routines by using apps, games and social interaction to make exercising more enjoyable for everyone. Take Amaven for example, it’s a simple programme that delivers a personalised exercise plan to every user to follow at home or at the gym on their devices, thus making exercise accessible and achievable for everyone. Register for free today.

Aside from making the effort to be more active in your spare time, pushing yourself to move more and sit less during the working day will have a significant impact on your health. Leave your desk and go for a short walk every hour throughout the day, get out of the office and take a stroll at lunch time and always opt for the stairs instead of the lift. If you want to get more creative, we have loads of office based exercise tips in this blog post. 

Follow Medical Advice 

The final message WHO are using this day to promote is to follow medical advice. Whether this is from your GP, the hospital, or just general medical suggestions, this information is especially important for overweight patients who are at a higher risk of developing diabetes. People with diabetes can live well if they follow a treatment plan with their healthcare provider, regularly exercise, stick to a balanced and healthy diet and avoid tobacco. 

Follow @myamaven on 7th April on Twitter where we will be supporting World Health Day using #WHD2016 #WorldHealthDay to take part in the conversation.