Today’s Editorial November 17: Controlling diabetes

Health Services Authority nurses will be screening people for diabetes at various supermarkets around the island until tomorrow.

Taking advantage of these screening is a good first step for people at risk of developing diabetes, a disease that is of particular concern in the Cayman Islands.

But commemorating World Diabetes Day, which took place 14 November, and having nurses check you once a year, is far from enough.

Preventing and/or treating diabetes must be a year-round exercise. Risk factors include being overweight, family history, a diet high in fat and sugar, and a sedentary lifestyle.

You may not be able to choose your family, but you can choose to live healthier and more actively.

Nurses at the screenings will be checking body mass index and blood sugar levels as well as performing a diabetes risk assessment, which includes lifestyle and family history questions.

Based on the results of these screenings, participants may need to make some important, potentially lifesaving, changes.

Listen to the advice of the nurses. Most people develop Type 2 diabetes, which is caused by lifestyle factors. How you choose to live can affect the quality of the rest of your life.

Eat more fruits and vegetables and fewer sweets. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Take medications if they are prescribed. Get regular checkups. In other words, don’t just sit there – take control of your life and your health.

The good news is that even if you develop Type 2 diabetes, it can be well controlled if you make these changes. And, if you are at increased risk of of developing diabetes, you can prevent this disease by altering your lifestyle.

Worldwide, diabetes has proven to be an enormous burden on health care systems. Complications arising from this disease can be devastating.

In fact, the theme for this year’s World Diabetes Day centred on protecting the feet of those suffering from the disease. As Minister for Health and Human Services Anthony Eden starkly put it earlier this week, someone in the world loses a leg to diabetes every 30 seconds.

Don’t let the next person be you.

Get screened for diabetes. If you are found to suffer from this disease, take whatever steps necessary to take control and stay healthy. If you are at risk of diabetes, make the changes to your life to prevent developing this disease

Too many things in this world are beyond our control. Preventing diabetes doesn’t have to be one of them.