Diabetes has become a major public health concern in the Arab world, affecting an estimate of 32.8 million patients in the Middle East. Five Arab Gulf countries, including UAE, out of ten worldwide are where diabetes is increasing rapidly. In UAE only, 19.2% of the adult population is diagnosed with diabetes, and the estimate is expected to rise to 21.4% by 2030.

According to WHO’s report of 2012, diabetes is the leading cause of 37 out of 100,000 deaths in UAE.

Pre-diabetes, the condition that exists before type 2 diabetes develops, affects 57 million people. You may have pre-diabetes if a fasting blood glucose is between 100 and 125 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dl), a two-hour glucose tolerance test is 140-199, or your hemoglobin A1c is 5.7-6.4%. This may also be called impaired fasting glucose, hyperglycemia or abnormal glucose value. No matter what you call it, a fasting blood glucose between 100 and 125 is cause for concern – and action. Pre-diabetes is the warning that type 2 diabetes is developing.

Preventing type 2 diabetes

The Diabetes Prevention Program was a major research project that looked at what helps prevent type 2 diabetes, once an elevated fasting blood glucose is diagnosed. The project, in part, followed overweight people who began exercising and losing weight.

  • Of the overweight individuals who started exercising 30 minutes/day for at least five days/week and lost 7% of their weight, 58% did not develop type 2 diabetes.
  • Of the overweight individuals who lost 10% or more of their weight, 90% did not develop type 2 diabetes.
  • Weight loss – combined with exercise – is the single most important factor that will stop the progression toward type 2 diabetes in overweight individuals.

Weight management

Can you think of one change you can make today to help yourself lose weight? Cutting out 250 extra calories per day will help you to lose 0.22 kilograms (½ pound) each week. This might involve eliminating a bedtime snack or simply not eating a second helping at dinner time. Keep a food record for one week. Look at your eating trends.

Are you skipping meals?

Don’t! Skipping meals often leads to overeating at other meals or snacks.

Are you drinking your calories?

Take a look at your beverages. Do you drink most of your calories by adding cream and sugar to your coffee or tea? Do you drink regular soda pop? 2½ cups (0.5 liter or 20 ounces) of soda may contain 250 calories. One less cup per day may help you to lose 0.22 kilogram (½ pound) per week.

Excercise

Glucose gets taken into the body through muscles. Anytime you exercise, you help your muscles to more easily get the glucose out of the blood and into your body where it is used for energy. If you are cleared for exercise by your doctor, start slowly increasing the timing, intensity or distance that you exercise. Set a goal of 30 minutes (minimum) of exercise five out of seven days each week. The 30 minutes does not need to be done all at one time. Three 10-minute walks are beneficial, too!

Stopping the progression of diabetes

If you have pre-diabetes, type 2 diabetes is not inevitable. You can lose weight and start to exercise to stop the progression of diabetes. Talk to your doctor at your next visit about your goals to prevent type 2 diabetes. For help with weight loss or other lifestyle changes to prevent type 2 diabetes, ask your doctor for a referral to a registered dietitian.

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