(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) More younger, working-class people are being diagnosed with diabetes, a silent killer, according to an expert.
Dr Maneesha Pandey, specialist endocrinologist at Aster Clinic, Bur Dubai, said most of the patients seen in the UAE are between 25 and 50 years old.
"This is a comparatively young age, and in the South Asian population, diabetes occurs 10 years earlier and 10 times more," she said.
Figures from the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) revealed that in 2017, 17.3 per cent of the UAE population between the ages of 20 and 79 has Type 2 diabetes.
There are over one million people living with diabetes in the UAE, placing the country 15th worldwide for age-adjusted comparative prevalence. It is important to note that diabetes is a regional affliction, as Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait and Qatar are also part of the top 20 countries in terms of prevalence worldwide.
Trends also indicate that the prevalence of diabetes in the UAE is rising at a faster rate than both the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region and the rest of the world. Rapid economic growth, sedentary lifestyles and unhealthy diets characteristic to the UAE are all risk factors, with the number of people with diabetes forecast to double to 2.2 million by 2040.
Efforts by the health authorities, however, showed encouraging results. The prevalence of diabetes dropped to 11.8 per cent of the total population in 2017, from an alarming 19.3 per cent in 2013. "We all know of someone who suffers from diabetes - it could be a family member, a friend or an acquaintance," said Dr Pandey.
She said people are getting diabetes due to a genetic predisposition, as well as a sedentary lifestyle, bad food habits and stress. "Adults above 21 should be screened for this silent killer, especially if they are overweight, have a family history and have hypertension," said Dr Pandey.
She added that the risk of diabetes increases with age, especially after the age of 45.
New studies show that by adopting a healthy, diabetes could actually be reversed, Dr Maneesha Pandey, specialist endocrinologist at Aster Clinic, Bur Dubai. "The secret to looking after yourself or your loved one in case of diabetes is effectively managing diabetes," said Dr Pandey.
Including leafy vegetables in your diet - such as spinach, cabbage and broccoli - along with fibre-rich foods - such as berries, nuts and seeds - can help keep your blood sugar at healthy levels.
"These foods ensure that you do not feel hungry often, reduce the chances of your blood glucose shooting up after a meal, helps you manage your weight, and enhances your body's immune system," said Dr Pandey.
Eating seafood that are rich in Omega-3, proteins and vitamins helps tackle diabetic neuropathy and protects the heart from damage. "Moderation is key when it comes to using artificial sweeteners," she added.
Exercising helps diabetics win half the battle. "If you are unsure of which exercise to do to stay fit, it is advisable that you consult your healthcare professional and seek further advice."
Patients can understand how well they are managing diabetes when they regularly check their blood glucose levels. "One can diagnose hypoglycemia and immediately take corrective steps to manage it."Major visual problems such as blindness can be tackled early on in the diabetes battle if one regularly schedules an annual eye check-up. Complications relating to the eye, such as cataract, glaucoma or retinopathy, can be easily detected during these check-ups, enabling you to address and treat them on time.
"Speak to your doctor or podiatrist about ulcers, corns or calluses on your feet, do not attempt to self-medicate," she added.
Asma Ali Zain Associated with KT for 15 years. Covers health issues, Pakistan community, human interest stories as well as general topics for daily news or features.