Identifying the problem
So how does diabesity affect your health, and what can you do to prevent it?
Diabetes mellitus, or simply diabetes, is a group of metabolic diseases causing high blood sugar. There are three types of diabetes. Type 1 is the kind you’re born with – the body’s immune system destroys the insulin-producing cells (insulin is the hormone that helps your body use the glucose in your blood to give you energy) – and can’t be cured so it must be managed with insulin injections.
Type 2 develops when the insulin-producing cells in the body are unable to produce enough insulin, or when the insulin that is produced does not work properly (known as insulin resistance). It usually appears in people over the age of 40, but it’s becoming more common in children. It is linked to obesity and may be managed with lifestyle changes.
The third form is gestational diabetes, which occurs when pregnant women without a history of diabetes develop a high blood-glucose level. It may precede Type 2 diabetes.
It’s Type 2, which is mainly brought on by an unhealthy, inactive lifestyle, that is the biggest problem. “Type 2 diabetes is more prevalent,” says UAE-based Dr Atul Aundhekar, Chief Medical Officer, iCARE Clinics. “Individuals who are overweight, with a higher proportion of belly fat or abdominal obesity, are potentially more insulin resistant, as it triggers secretion of a group of hormones called adipokines, which may impair glucose tolerance. In the UAE, this forms the majority of the cases due to relatively inactive lifestyles and unhealthy diet patterns.”
A glance at the history of diabetes and obesity shows how dramatically our lifestyles are affecting our health. The term ‘diabesity’ first entered the public consciousness in 2005, Diabetes is sometimes called ‘the silent killer’ because so many people fail to identify the early symptoms. The main symptoms of diabetes common to both Type 1 and 2 are: • Feeling very thirsty • Urinating frequently, particularly at night • Feeling very tired • Weight loss and loss of muscle bulk
Other symptoms of diabetes can include blurred vision, cramps and skin infections.
If you’re worried that you may have diabetes or be at risk, it’s important to see a medical professional as soon as possible and start making lifestyle changes to reduce your risk. with the publication of the book Diabesity: The Obesity-Diabetes Epidemic That Threatens America – andWhatWeMust Do To Stop It by paediatric endocrinologist Dr Francine Kaufman.
In the book, she noted that the prevalence of diabetes nearly doubled in the American adult population: to 8.7 per cent in 2002, from 4.9 per cent in 1990. She also wrote that in her first 15 years as a paediatric endocrinologist, 1978 to 1993, “I never saw a young patient with Type 2 diabetes. But then everything changed.”
In fact, things changed so much that the name of environmentally influenced diabetes – previously called ‘adult-onset diabetes’ – had to be officially changed in 1997 to Type 2 diabetes, to accommodate the growing number of children and teenagers developing the disease.
The rise in childhood obesity in recent years means that the UAE, like many countries, is witnessing increasing numbers of adolescents who have developed diabetes or are at risk of
The symptoms to watch out for