Sunday, May 25, 2014

‘Diabetes time bomb’

KUALA LUMPUR: MALAYSIANS tend to follow a “see-food” diet — they eat what they see — and this is unwise, especially for the overweight, as this puts them at greater risk of developing diabetes, said senior consultant endocrinologist Professor Dr Chan Siew Pheng.
“We have many fast-food outlets and mamak stalls that are open 24 hours a day, but the practice of eating any time and more than the required need, needs to be changed.
“There are many Malaysians who are not yet diabetic, but at a high risk for developing diabetes because of risk factors, such as a family history of diabetes, being overweight, and/or living a sedentary life. They may also be pre-diabetic.
“Diabetes usually does not occur alone. Diabetics frequently also have hypertension, dyslipidaemia (low HDL-cholesterol, high triglyceride) and abdominal obesity.
“Each of these increases the risk of heart disease and stroke on its own, but when they all occur in the same individual, this person is a ‘time bomb’ for having a heart attack or stroke.
“Therefore, diabetics should have their blood pressure, lipid profile and waist circumference checked and treated accordingly.”
Dr Chan said Malaysia had a huge burden of diabetes with prevalence of 20 per cent of adults above the age of 30 years, or one in five adults, having diabetes .
“As many as 50 per cent of diabetics are unaware that they have it and the same percentage of people do not experience any symptoms.”
In many cases, the delay in recognising that diabetes is present could be up to seven to 10 years, during which the high blood glucose causes irreversible damage, said Dr Chan.
She said, at the pre-diabetic stage, there is an increased risk for heart attacks, and so blood pressure and cholesterol should be checked, and treated to reduce the risk.
Body weight should be assessed, and weight reduction is recommended if the person is overweight,said Dr Chan.
“The good news is that progression to diabetes can be delayed or prevented by up to 58 per cent if these individuals increase physical activity (for example, exercising 150 minutes a week) and restrict their diet to reduce five to seven per cent of their body weight.”

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