Figures released by Sanofi-aventis and the UAE Ministry of health show that out of 400 volunteers screened for diabetes, one in ten had high blood sugar, one in seven had high blood pressure – and every single one was overweight according to their Body Mass Index.
The tests, carried out to mark World Diabetes Day last week, were designed to raise awareness of diabetes and the importance of a healthy diet and exercise. Four hundred people came forward to be screened at the Mall of the Emirates over a 12 hour period. All volunteers were potentially at risk from diabetes or heart disease because of their higher than average weight/height ratio.
The Sanofi-aventis and UAE Ministry of Health initiative was a show of private and public organizations teaming up to combat health risks across the country.
Dr. Mahmoud Fikri, CEO Health Policies Affairs, and Chairman of the National Board of Diabetes Control, described the day as particularly significant in the UAE. “Around 20% of people in this country are suffering with diabetes and much of that is due to diet and lack of exercise. This programme was designed not just to test people who may already have some early signs of diabetes, but also to offer education, information and advice on how to lower the risks.” He said.
“These screening days are as much about awareness as they are about detection. It’s a great initiative, but these results are obviously of great concern.” Dr. Mahmoud added.
While nearly one in five UAE residents lives with diabetes, that number rises to two in five for the over 60s. In 2008, that figure ranked the UAE second highest in the world per capita
General Manager, sanofi-aventis, Mr. Jean-Marc Voissier believes that the earlier the education starts, the better. “We need to involve and educate young people. The screening statistics are extremely worrying and we have to bring an end to this cycle of diabetes. The best way to do that is by showing people that they have a very real chance of suffering from diabetes. For every single person that was tested to be potentially overweight is very worrying. We need education, education and more education.”
The onset of diabetes is often sudden and dramatic and can include symptoms such as:
• Abnormal thirst and a dry mouth
• Frequent urination
• Extreme tiredness/lack of energy
• Constant hunger
• Sudden weight loss
• Slow-healing wounds
• Recurrent infections
• Blurred vision
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