New Straits Times - - News -

NOV 14 was World Di­a­betes Day with the theme, “Women and Di­a­betes: Our Right To A Healthy Fu­ture”. The preva­lence of di­a­betes has been on the rise over the past decade, mak­ing it one of Malaysia’s most crit­i­cal pub­lic health is­sues, af­ter obe­sity and car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­eases.

It is es­ti­mated that the num­ber of di­a­bet­ics in Malaysia has sky­rock­eted to 3.5 mil­lion.

It was re­ported that one-fifth of adults would have di­a­betes by 2020, as re­vealed by the Malaysian Na­tional Health and Mor­bid­ity Sur­vey in 2015.

Many peo­ple may ask: are women more sus­cep­ti­ble to di­a­betes even though the dis­ease it­self may not gen­der dis­crim­i­nate?

Glob­ally, there are 199 mil­lion women liv­ing with di­a­betes, and this dis­ease is re­ported to be the ninth lead­ing cause of death in women around the world, caus­ing 2.1 mil­lion deaths each year.

A look at the risk fac­tors af­fect­ing di­a­betes re­veal why women are more vul­ner­a­ble to di­a­betes.

Be­ing over­weight and obese are in­sep­a­ra­ble from di­a­betes, and re­search has proven that obe­sity can in­crease the risks of de­vel­op­ing Type 2 di­a­betes.

Ac­cord­ing to a study by The Lancet, a Bri­tish med­i­cal jour­nal, 49 per cent of women and 44 per cent of men in Malaysia are obese.

Even though women and men share sim­i­lar di­a­betes com­pli­ca­tions, what many women may not know is that di­a­betes could have a more se­vere im­pact on women than men.

First, women with di­a­betes suf­fer greater car­dio­vas­cu­lar risks than men, said the Amer­i­can Heart As­so­ci­a­tion.

Di­a­betic women have a twofold in­crease in risk of coro­nary heart dis­ease com­pared with their male coun­ter­parts, and nearly four times the risk for coro­nary heart dis­ease death.

There is ev­i­dence show­ing kid­ney dis­ease is an­other com­pli­ca­tion of di­a­betes that af­fects women more than men as di­a­betic women nor­mally suf­fer from lower level of es­tro­gen, which is as­so­ci­ated with kid­ney dis­ease.

Ad­di­tion­ally, de­pres­sion is re­ported twice as com­mon in women, as it is in men, with di­a­betes.

Re­search shows that di­a­betic women are more prone to poor blood sugar con­trol, obe­sity, hyper­ten­sion and high choles­terol than men with di­a­betes.

This year’s World Di­a­betes Day gives us a chance ex­am­ine the im­pact di­a­betes has on women, but more im­por­tantly, to ex­plore how women can tackle di­a­betes.

Chilean nov­el­ist Is­abelle Al­lende said: “If a woman is em­pow­ered, her chil­dren and her fam­ily will be bet­ter off.

“If fam­i­lies pros­per, the vil­lage pros­pers, and even­tu­ally so does the whole coun­try.”

Women are gate­keep­ers of fam­ily health and wellness.

It is im­por­tant that women take the lead role in ad­vo­cat­ing a health­ier diet and life­style, sched­ul­ing ex­er­cise and health checks to pre­vent di­a­betes.

Ed­u­ca­tion is an equally im­por­tant task.

The Na­tional Health and Mor­bid­ity Sur­vey re­ported an up­ward trend in un­di­ag­nosed di­a­betes mel­li­tus among those above 18, from 4.5 per cent in 2006 to 9.2 per cent in 2015.

Women — as daugh­ter, wife and mother — must em­power fu­ture gen­er­a­tions with the right knowl­edge and ac­cess to health­care re­sources to pre­vent and care for di­a­betes.

Di­a­betes can­not be cured, but it can surely be pre­vented.


Women tak­ing part in a char­ity walk dur­ing World Di­a­betes Day in Kuala Lumpur.

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