MOH News
Press Release on the World Diabetes Day 2014 (Healthy Life and Diabetes)
15 November 2014
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia joins the world countries in celebrating the World Diabetes Day, on November 14th, 2014, corresponding to Muharram 21st, 1436H, through many programs and events in all mass media and social networks. "Healthy Life and Diabetes" is the theme of this year's World Diabetes Day, with a focus on breakfast, in order to raise awareness of the importance of prevention against the diabetes, or at least delay its occurrence, through following a healthy diet, regular physical activity and maintaining a normal weight. According to the World health Organization (WHO), the number of persons afflicted with diabetes in 2013 worldwide amounted to more than 328 million, and it is likely that this number will double by 2030, unless serious actions are to be taken. It is worth mentioning that around 80% of diabetes deaths occur in low and middle-income countries.
A report issued by the Ministry of Health's (MOH) National Center for Media and Health Awareness indicated that diabetes incidence rates increase with aging. The incidence rate in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, as per the health information survey 2013, reached 13.4% for the age groups of 15 years old and above, and 50.4% among those aged 65 years and above. Also 45% of those inflicted with diabetes don't even know that they are diabetics. Consequently, the MOH endeavors to raise awareness of diabetes, its incidence rates, and how to prevent the disease in most cases. 
The observation of the world day for awareness of diabetes throughout the Kingdom's regions and villages came as a result of the effective role that the MOH plays in the context of its continuous efforts to maintain the health and safety of members of the society and protect them, Allah willing, against diseases. The participation aims at encouraging and implementing policies of prevention and control of the diabetes and its complications, as well as supporting and deploying national initiatives for combating the disease. Besides, the MOH seeks to underline the importance of the evidence-based education of diabetes treatment, and prevention against its complications, and raise awareness of the warning signs of diabetes, in addition to urging people towards early diagnosis. Moreover, it takes as its goal strengthening the efforts to reduce the risk factors of type 2 diabetes and prevent or delay the complications of the disease.
The report clarified that diabetes is a chronic disease that occurs when the pancreas is unable to produce enough insulin (A hormone that regulates blood sugar), or when the body cannot effectively use the insulin. Hyperglycemia, or high blood sugar, as per the report, is a common complication of uncontrolled diabetes. By the time it leads to serious damage to many body organs, especially the nerves and blood vessels. 
The report pointed to the main types of diabetes: Type 1 diabetes which results from destruction of the insulin producing cells of the pancreas, leading to acute deficiency of this hormone. It may affect people at any age, but usually develops in children and adolescents. The symptoms of this type include: excessive urination, thirst, constant feeling of hunger, weight loss, and fatigue. The insulin is the only possible cure for this type.
Meanwhile, type 2 diabetes represents at least 90% of diabetes cases. This type is caused by insulin-resistance as a result of overweight and accumulation of fats in the body. Consequently, the pancreas becomes unable to produce enough insulin. Diagnosable at any age, this type is associated with overweight or obesity and physical inactivity. People with type 2 diabetes often control their condition through exercise and diet. It is estimated that type 2 could be prevented or delayed by almost 70% when following healthy styles including dietary balance and physical activity. But most people may need to use oral medications and insulin injection at different stages of treatment. Symptoms of this type are similar to those of type 1 diabetes, but are often less marked. Therefore, the disease may be diagnosed several years after onset of symptoms; i.e. after occurrence of complications.
The WHO and nutrition experts have underscored the importance of having breakfast on a regular basis, as some studies have linked breakfast skipping with overweight and obesity, which may lead to type 2 diabetes, noting that 80% of the new detected cases of diabetes at the international level suffer from overweight and obesity.
Concerning type 3 diabetes (also known as: gestational diabetes), it is caused by hyperglycemia during pregnancy. Its symptoms are similar to those of type 2 diabetes and could develop complications for both the mother and child, and usually disappear after pregnancy, and in some cases may evolve and the mother may be afflicted with type 2 diabetes within five to ten years after delivery. There is a rare genetic type affecting children and could be treated with diet or the oral sugar depressors.
The report indicated that there are still ongoing studies to define the risk factors of the type 1 diabetes; it is possible that family members with type 1 diabetes may increase the risk of developing the disease, to be added to the environmental factors and exposure to some viral infections which are associated with the risk of developing the type 1 diabetes. On the other hand, the risk factors for type 2 diabetes include family history of diabetes, overweight, unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, aging, hypertension, history of gestational diabetes and malnutrition during pregnancy. 
The National Center for Media and Health Awareness's report highlighted that diabetes, over time, might cause damages to the heart, blood vessels, eyes, kidneys and nerves. Patients may be prone to many complications, since diabetes increases the risk of heart diseases and stroke, which may cause the death of 50% of diabetics. It also increases neuropathy in the feet, or poor blood flow that increases the chance of foot ulceration and eventually limb amputation. Also, diabetic retinopathy is a major cause of blindness and after living with the diabetes for 15 years around 2% of diabetics go blind and 10% of them suffer from severe visual impairment. Diabetes is a leading cause of renal failure, which in turn causes the death of 10-20% of the diabetics. The diabetes also affects the nerves or the so-called "neuropathy" which affects around 50% of diabetics, in addition to that diabetics are twice more vulnerable to the risk of death than non-diabetics.
It concluded that following simple lifestyle measures are effective in preventing or delaying the onset of diabetes, such measures include: Maintaining a healthy weight or at the normal levels, practicing moderate physical activity at least 20-30 minutes most days of the week, following a healthy diet containing fruits and vegetables every day, reducing intake of sugar and saturated fats and avoiding smoking as it increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases.  

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