Friday, 14 November 2008


“He who takes medicine and neglects to diet wastes the skill of his doctors.” - Chinese Proverb

November the 14th has been designated as World Diabetes Day (WDD) and has become the day for highlighting a global awareness campaign of people suffering from diabetes, and their families. The International Diabetes Federation (IDF) and the World Health Organization (WHO) in 1991 introduced the concept of a world day to raise awareness for diabetes in response to the sharp rise in diabetes incidence around the world. The United Nations marked the observation of the Day for the first time in 2007 with the passage of the United Nations World Diabetes Day Resolution in December 2006, which made the existing World Diabetes Day an official United Nations World Health Day.

World Diabetes Day is a campaign that features a new theme chosen by the International Diabetes Federation each year to address issues facing the global diabetes community. While the themed campaigns last the whole year, the day itself is celebrated on November 14, to mark the birthday of Frederick Banting who, along with Charles Best, first conceived the idea, which led to the discovery of insulin in 1922.

In 2007 and 2008, the theme of World Diabetes Day is Diabetes in Children and Adolescents. Diabetes is one of the most common chronic diseases of childhood. Type 1 diabetes is growing by 3% per year in children and adolescents, and at an alarming 5% per year among pre-school children. It is estimated that 70,000 children under 15 develop type 1 diabetes each year (almost 200 children a day). Currently, an estimated 440,000 children live with type 1 diabetes globally. Type 2 diabetes was once seen as a disease of adults but today, it is growing at alarming rates in children and adolescents.

The International Diabetes Federation's two-year focus on children through the World Diabetes Day campaign, aims to increase awareness among parents and caregivers, teachers, healthcare professionals, politicians and the public. World Diabetes Day is celebrated worldwide by the over 200 member associations of the International Diabetes Federation in more than 160 countries, all Member States of the United Nations, as well as by other associations and organizations, companies, healthcare professionals and people living with diabetes and their families.

The World Diabetes Day logo is the blue circle (being the global symbol for diabetes which was developed as part of the Unite for Diabetes awareness campaign). The logo was adopted in 2007 to mark the passage of
 the United Nations World Diabetes Day Resolution. The significance of
 the blue circle symbol is overwhelmingly positive. Across cultures, the circle symbolizes life and health. The colour blue reflects the sky that unites all nations and is the colour of the United Nations flag. The blue circle signifies the unity of the global diabetes community in response to the diabetes pandemic.

In terms of diet and diabetes, there is a common misconception out there that eating too much sugar or too many sweet foods habitually will give you diabetes. This is not true. The connection between diet and diabetes is that certain types of diabetes that people are predisposed to genetically, will be manifested when the person becomes overweight. Overweight people who have a poor diet (including much processed food and simple carbohydrates like sugar) often present with diabetes (especially type 2). Of particular concern are overweight children who are increasingly being diagnosed with this type of diabetes. However, if your genes do not predispose you to diabetes and if you are of normal weight, even if you live on sugar alone you will not get the disease.

A good way to prevent many types of diabetes is to maintain your weight within normal range, eat sensibly, have a balanced diet and exercise regularly. Even people who are genetically predisposed to diabetes can stave off the disease if they modify their lifestyle sufficiently.

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