Diabetes, a chronic, progressive condition, is considered a major health problem in the Cayman Islands and worldwide.
More than 240 million adults worldwide have diabetes, with the greatest occurrence in North America followed by Europe. It is estimated that by 2025 there will be 300 million persons living with diabetes.
In developed countries, diabetes occurs in almost 10 per cent of the adult population. In the Caribbean region, including Cayman, it occurs in 12 to 15 per cent of the adult population.
Statistics show that approximately 1,500 diabetics were seen by the HSA in the last six months, accounting for more than 7,000 encounters and 4,557 visits.
Type 1 diabetes occurs when the pancreatic cells that make insulin, a hormone, are destroyed and can no longer produce it. The other form of diabetes, Type 2, is linked to obesity and occurs when the body can’t properly use the insulin it makes.
The HSA is actively involved in the prevention of diabetes. In the Cayman Islands, diabetes develops because of genetic as well as lifestyle factors.
Being genetically prone to diabetes does not necessarily mean an individual will develop the condition. It is the interaction between the genetic and the environmental factors that leads to the development of the condition.
Studies show that only 25 per cent of persons who have been found to be in the pre-diabetic state go on to become diabetic.
The mainstay of prevention of this condition is in lifestyle modification and avoiding risk factors for the condition.
Lifestyle modification includes:
? Proper nutrition. Avoiding saturated fats and diets high in cholesterol and refined carbohydrates
? Maintaining ideal body weight-Body mass index less than 25 through dieting and exercise
?Exercise. Increase physical activity to 30 minutes/day at least four times a week.
? Stop smoking
? Limit alcohol consumption to one drink a day or less
? Maintain normal blood pressure through lifestyle changes/medical treatment
? Treatment of impaired glucose tolerance (the pre-diabetic state).
Offered through the Public Health Department, the diabetic education course is a five-day session offered to persons living with or at risk for diabetes as well as caregivers.
The programme aims to empower persons living with diabetes, caregivers and persons at risk for developing diabetes by giving them the knowledge and skills needed to successfully manage the condition, and hence prevent or delay the associated complications.
The course also aims to convince persons living with diabetes that they are in charge of the management of their condition – health care providers are only facilitators.
For further support, the following groups can assist:
Cayman Islands Diabetes Association. Contact: Sylvia Perry 928-6240 or Lucy Martyr 925-6832
Diabetes Support Group. Contact: Christina Rowlandson 926-1053