We won’t sugarcoat it for you: Singapore has the second-highest proportion of diabetics among developed nations. Figures from the National Health Survey in 2010 reveal that one in nine Singaporeans aged between 18 and 69-years-old is affected by diabetes. Of these, one in three is unaware that he or she has the disease.
With the help of experts, we outline the key facts you need to know about diabetes, including the surprising causes behind the disease.
What is diabetes?
Diabetes occurs when the body’s blood sugar levels stay above normal on a consistent basis. In layman’s terms, that means that diabetes makes it difficult for the body to turn food into energy.
Dr Daniel Wai, a Consultant Endocrinologist at Mount Elizabeth Medical Centre, says, “Older Singaporeans have the highest proportion of diabetics at 29.1 per cent, but I see too many young people who have it as well. In fact, almost 4.3 per cent of those who are aged 30 to 39 have diabetes.”
Type 1 Diabetes
There are two types of diabetes. Type 1 is genetic and unpreventable. It occurs because the pancreas does not naturally produce enough insulin, a hormone that controls blood glucose levels. About five percent of all diabetics in Singapore have Type 1 diabetes but it mostly occurs in children, teenagers, and young adults. “These patients have to inject insulin for the rest of their lives,” says Dr Wai.
Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 is the most common form of diabetes and is related to weight management. Risk factors associated with this form of the disease include unhealthy weight range, age, family history, lack of exercise and a history of gestational diabetes. Over 90 per cent of diabetics suffers from Type 2 diabetes, with obese people being the group that is most at risk of developing the disease.
A change of diet, good lifestyle habits and keeping within a healthy weight range can significantly lower one’s risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. Here are some lesser known factors to know about what causes the disease so you can protect your body: