Type 2 diabetes on the rise globally
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Cape Town – While most children go about their daily activities relatively carefree, Ashleigh Williams has to test herself up to six times a day and apply strict self-control when eating.
Ashleigh has Type 1 diabetes and is one of millions around the world living with the disease.
Today marks World Diabetes Day under the theme “The Family and Diabetes” to raise awareness of the impact diabetes has on the family.
Ashleigh’s mother, Petronella, said they noticed she was drinking more water, losing weight and urinating a lot ahead of her diagnosis.
“She was 23 months old when diagnosed. I never knew children could get diabetes. We call it ‘suiker’ and think it’s a disease for old people.”
According to the Department of Health, diabetes is the fifth leading cause of death in the province, accounting for more than 25 000 deaths in 2016.
Dietician Ashleigh Moolman said family members were important in the lives of those living with diabetes.
“Family members often help with ensuring that the medication is taken at the right time and with testing the blood sugar, and can be a big help in getting the person with diabetes eating the right food and exercising.
“The role of the family in the case of a young child with Type 1 diabetes is even more taxing. Studies have shown that children with it miss more school days than their siblings or peers, and a parent would have to miss work to stay home with a sick child.
“For both children and adults with diabetes, the role of the family in providing support is key for the successful management of diabetes.”
Nicola Lister, chief scientific officer and medical director at Novartis Southern Africa, said the rise in the number of those living with diabetes was concerning.
“According to the World Health Organisation, the number of people with diabetes rose from 108 million in 1980 to 422 million in 2014 - representing an increase from 4.7% of adults to 8.5% of adults.”
“Most of these cases are Type 2 diabetes, which can be treated and its consequences avoided or delayed through a healthy diet, physical activity, medication and regular screening and treatment for complications.”
Lister said simple lifestyle measures had been shown to be effective in preventing or delaying the onset of Type 2 diabetes.
“These include achieving and maintaining a healthy body weight; eating a healthy, balanced diet and avoiding sugar and fats; avoiding tobacco use; and getting at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise daily.”