Friday, March 16, 2012

Diabetes in Singapore

Type 2 diabetes is a complex disease that involves high levels of blood sugar that cannot be processed by the hormone insulin.[1] Diet, obesity and lack of exercise are cited as causes of diabetes as well as heredity.  According to a newly published data from the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) showed that some 285 million people live with diabetes today as compared to an estimated 30 million people in 1985. This is over a seven-fold increase in just over 20 years and it will be close to 440 million by 2030.[2]

And unfortunately,  Singapore has one of the highest rates of diabetes in the developed world[3]. Actually situation is getting worse and diabetes is currently the 7th most common cause of death in Singapore:

"Type 2 Diabetes constituted less than 5 per cent of all childhood diabetes 15 years ago. Today, it accounts for one-third of all childhood diabetes in Singapore. Half of all adolescent-onset diabetes is now Type 2 and the prevalence of childhood obesity is rising in Singapore as well, with 12.7 per cent of children being overweight in 2006 compared to 10.2 per cent in 1999. Diabetes is a factor in about 9 per cent of all deaths in Singapore, and is the seventh most common cause of death locally."

Today, 11% of Singaporean adults have diabetes[4]. And a recent study gives some hint that Asian diet style, particularly excessive consumption of excessive rice in Asian diet, may have been the reason we have high number of diabetes in Singapore:

"What we've found is white rice is likely to increase the risk of Type 2 diabetes, especially at high consumption levels such as in Asian populations," Qi Sun of the Harvard School of Public Health told AFP.

"But at the same time people should pay close attention to the other things they eat. It's very important to address not just a single food but the whole pattern of consumption." [1]

The problem may not only be the high level of rice consumption. Food in Singapore, especially the ones in popular hawker centers and food courts, also tend to be very oily. But if the rice is the cause, there is a way to decrease the risk: brown rice.

White rice we use dominantly in our diet is a processed food and as many processed foods it becomes a health problem if eaten a lot. Machines in rice mills produce white rice's polished look by hulling and milling, leaving a grain that is predominantly starch. Brown rice, by contrast, has more fibre, magnesium and vitamins, and a lower "glycaemic index," a measurement of sugar content, than white rice.[1]

And unfortunately, it seems like things will get worse:

By 2050, Singapore may have as many as one million diabetics. Every one in two people, by age 70, will be diabetic - up from one in three today. Of the adult population, 15 per cent will suffer from the disease, compared with 11.3 per cent now. 
And because people here are not just getting older, but also fatter, obesity is likely to push up the risks of diabetes, which in turn raises the risk of stroke, heart and kidney failure, and blindness.[4]

[1] - White rice link seen with Type 2 diabetes, says study
[2] - Tackling The Diabetes Epidemic
[2] - Fighting diabetes and other metabolic disease in Singapore
[3] - Health Minister Mr Gan Kim Yong at World Diabetes Day 2011, 
[4] - 1m diabetics by 2050 as Singaporeans get older, fatter

No comments:

Post a Comment