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Diabetes Danger Zone

Reprinted from The New Paper
July 29, 2012

Swopped your veggies for a burger?

A recent study shows that eating fast food regularly puts you at a higher risk of dying of heart disease and a much greater risk of contracting diabetes.

Reuters reports that the study, published in prestigious medical journal Circulation, looked at more than 60,000 Singaporeans of Chinese descent.

Western fast food has become increasingly popular here and in other parts of Asia.

The study, which was led by the University of Minnesota's School of Public Health, looked at participants aged between 45 and 74 at the outset and followed them for about a decade.

The researchers found that those who had fast food two or more times a week had 27 per cent greater chance of becoming diabetic and 56 per cent higher risk of experiencing cardiac death than those who ate little or no fast food.

During the study period, 1,397 died of cardiac causes, while 2,252 developed Type-2 diabetes.

There is a worldwide epidemic of diabetes – one in nine adults under 70 has Type-2 diabetes.

Diabetes is among the Top 10 causes of death in Singapore and a study by the Health Promotion Board (HPB) found that the percentage of Singaporean residents with diabetes aged between 18 and 69 rose from 8.2 per cent in 2004 to 11.3 per cent in 2010.

The disease is more common among men than women and of those diagnosed, Indians were most likely to have it, while Malays had the biggest increase – 5 per cent between 2004 and 2010.

There is also the sobering fact that 46.4 per cent of all patients suffering their first heart attack in 2009 were found to be diabetic.


Diabetes is a condition in which the body does not produce enough insulin, causing blood-glucose levels to remain persistently higher than normal.

Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas that allows your body's cells to use blood glucose (sugar) for energy.
Food is converted into glucose before it is absorbed into our bloodstream. The pancreas then releases insulin to move the glucose from the bloodstream.

Aside from a poor diet, the other reasons that diabetes is on the rise in Singapore are believed to be an ageing population and lack of exercise.


HPB also found that almost half of Singaporean residents were unaware they had diabetes. The numbers for undiagnosed diabetics were highest among Malays, followed by Chinese.


Lose extra weight
Being overweight puts you in the diabetes danger zone. Every bit of weight you lose helps. The Mayo Clinic cites a study that saw overweight adults reduce their diabetes risk by 16 per cent for every kilogram lost.

Eat more fibre
Whether it is from fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts or seeds. Fibre reduces your risk of diabetes by improving your blood-sugar control.

Not only do these foods help avoid heart disease, fibre helps weight loss by making you feel full. Also try whole-grain products, like bread, pasta and cereal. Just make sure the ingredients feature the word "whole".

Get active
A sedentary lifestyle and diabetes go hand in hand.

If you start to exercise it will help you lose weight and lower your blood sugar and boost your sensitivity to insulin – keeping your blood sugar within normal levels.

Resistance training or aerobic exercise can help control diabetes. Start a programme that includes both forms of training.


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