Genetics or simply too fat?

Posted on November 15, 2011


A and I missed World Diabetes Day (annually celebrated on the 14th November i.e. YESTERDAY!) and we are extremely sorry as Diabetes is a serious emerging health issue in many developing countries.

But seriously: What the hell is with Diabetes Week being held in JULY?? and Diabetes Day being celebrated in NOVEMBER?

Get your act together Australia!

Anyway…back to Diabetes:

I thought I had diabetes sometime last year – In fact I am pretty sure I announced it to my work colleagues and my fb friends before receiving an actual doctor diagnosis (I had consulted the relevant web pages for a self-diagnosis).

As it turned out, the weather was changing (cold to hot) and I was just drinking more water than I was used to.

HOWEVER – before you judge me and label me a hypochondriac, 5 out of my 8 aunts and uncles from my dad’s side (El Salvador is a very catholic and developing nation) have diabetes and my great grandmother from my mum’s side died from diabetes related complications (cardiovascular disease).

I (try to) exercise. I (try to) eat well.

But diabetes does not discriminate.

You either get it becasue your immune system fails (type 1 diabetes)  or because you carry excess body weight (often associated with type 2 diabetes). Type 2 diabetes accounts for around 90% of all diabetes worldwide.

The scary thing is that the number of people living with diabetes is increasing globally. And although the causes of diabetes are complex, the observed increases in diabetes worldwide are largely attributed to our sedentary lifestyles and expanding waste-lines.

Currently, there are about 346 million people worldwide with diabetes, with more than 80% of people with diabetes living in low- and middle-income countries.

But hold on…”I though people in developing countries are struggling to put food on the table…” i hear you saying.

And Yes, you are correct! BUT developing countries are dealing with what is called a “double burden of disease”.

Countries like India that have traditionally experienced high rates of childhood under-nutrition, in recent years  have seen much economic development, increased urbanisation, nutrition transition (less home grown to more processed foods), and reduced physical activity (i.e. leaving farming work for urban jobs).

All these lifestyle factors are thought to be the cause of the increased prevalence of obesity and type 2 diabetes seen in adults and children in middle- and low-income countries.

Diabetes trends around the world

Diabetes trends around the world

Furthermore, new evidence suggests that under-nutrition during early life, intervened by aggressive nutrition programmes, may be playing a role in adult-onset type 2 diabetes [1].

For developing countries, lack of education and awareness about diabetes, combined with inadequate access to health services and essential medicines is said to be leading to premature illness and death.

While researching for ‘prevention strategies’ for Diabetes – the World Health Organisation recommends:

Thirty minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity on most days and a healthy diet can drastically reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes cannot be prevented

So – I guess it’s time to become a swapper!




[1] Misra A and Khurana L (2008). Obesity and the Metabolic Syndrome in Developing Countries. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. Vol 93. No 11. Supplement 1, S9 – S30.