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Don’t be a mug: beat diabetes

Sep 20. 2017
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By The Nation

One of the biggest scourges of modern times and one that can be almost entirely blamed on lifestyle, mainly diet and lack of exercise, is the prevalence of diabetes.

The figures tell the story. In 2015, there were 415 million diabetes patients worldwide and this number is projected to increase to 642 million in 2040 with more than five million dying from the disease. Thailand too has witnessed an increase in cases and in fatalities: from 3.2 million in 2009 to 4.8 million in 2014 and mortality rising from 14.93 to 17.83 people per 100,000 population between 2013 and 2015

Type 2 diabetes is the most common type and happens when the body does not make or use insulin well, resulting in glucose remaining in the blood. That glucose is found in 95 per cent in Thai diabetes patients and is mostly detected in the overweight and the obese.

By taking care of themselves and controlling their blood sugar through diet and exercise, diabetics will help to prevent complications and decrease spending on medication.

These days, rather than the simple pinprick blood test, clinicians prefer to measure glycated haemoglobin (HbA1c) so as to get an overall picture of what our average blood sugar levels have been over a period of weeks/months. The result is used as the measurement of diabetes patients.

The term HbA1c refers to glycated haemoglobin. It develops when haemoglobin, a protein within red blood cells that carries oxygen throughout the body, joins with glucose in the blood, becoming “glycated”.

HbA1c is also referred to as haemoglobin A1c or simply A1c.

In Thailand the HbA1c target for people with diabetes to aim for is less than seven per cent, which will help diabetics avoid the risk of complications such as kidney failure.

However, only 35.6 per cent of diabetes patients are able to bring the A1c to the target of seven per cent.

Senior Colonel Associate Professsor Apussanee Boonyavarakul, director of medicine at Phramongkutklao hospital, emphasises that the cases will carry on rising unless we learn how to control our diet, food intake and lifestyle.

She adds that even though the new generation of insulin approved by FDA is more effective than earlier drugs in decreasing the hypoglycaemia effect, it should only be prescribed if patients are willing to make the effort to change their lifestyle. Learning more about diabetes at

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