The Health Promotion Board (HPB), Singapore, has launched a first-of-its-kind nationwide challenge to encourage Singaporeans who are overweight and at risk of becoming obese to battle the bulge.
According to the National Health Survey 2010, 1.7 million Singaporeans have a body mass index (BMI) of 23 or above, and they are at risk of obesity-related diseases such as diabetes, heart diseases and stroke. HPB says one million Singaporeans with BMI of 23 or more are either already pre-diabetic, or suffer at least one or more chronic condition such as diabetes. The One Million KG Challenge aims to get Singapore residents to collectively lose one million kilogrammes by 2016.
These community initiatives reflect a greater awareness of the need to combat obesity in order to curb the increasing prevalence of diabetes, amongst other lifestyle diseases. While community initiatives like this are highly commendable in their efforts to inspire the general public to lose weight and improve their health, the bigger challenge lies in how to maintain the weight lost and to persist in living a healthy lifestyle after the challenge is over.
A new diabetes prevention website has been launched in an attempt to stop what doctors say is a worsening epidemic in Asia. Studies have shown that Asians are at higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes, when compared with people of European ancestry. Asians are also more likely to develop the disease even at a lower BMI. This means that even though some Asian populations currently have a lower prevalence of overweight and obese individuals than populations in the West, they have a disproportionately high percentage of people with diabetes. Currently, 60% of the world’s diabetic population is Asian.
In Singapore, already 11.3% of adults have diabetes, and the numbers are set to worsen with the aging population and increasing obesity prevalence.
Another new drug canagliflozin has been approved for the treatment of diabetes in the UK. This is a new class of anti-diabetic medication that has joined the existing armory of oral agents in treatment of diabetes. Very soon, the drug will be available in Singapore similarly. The potential market for type 2 diabetes drugs is enormous and growing. An estimated 382 million people worldwide have diabetes, according to the International Diabetes Federation, with numbers set to worsen in many countries with aging population and increasing prevalence of obesity. While the addition of new treatment for diabetes is welcome, no drug is perfect enough to be a miracle panacea for the treatment of diabetes. Successful management of diabetes requires the concerted effort of appropriate medications, the sound clinical judgement of an astute physician, conscientious lifestyle modifications, consistent dietary habits, and most importantly, the patients’ motivation and desire to control their diabetes well.
A dramatic rise in thyroid cancer has resulted from overdiagnosis and treatment of tumors too small to ever cause harm, according to a study that found cases nearly tripled since 1975. This finding is not surprising considering the advent of thyroid ultrasound screening and availability of bedside histological diagnosis using fine needle aspiration in the clinic. While it is true that many of such tumor are so slow growing that they may not cause any problems for many years, such a report should not encourage patients to leave their thyroid nodules unattended. There is a risk that these thyroid nodules may be aggressive. Although watchful waiting and active surveillance would indeed suffice for many of these thyroid nodules, all thyroid nodules should still be fully evaluated by a specialist before deciding on the best course of action.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommends that more people should be put on cholesterol-lowering statin drugs to protect them against heart attacks and strokes. Some patients remained reluctant to take statins despite the doctors’ advice, for fear of side effects. However side effects from statins which include liver and muscle problems are rare, and usually reversible upon cessation of the drug. The benefits of statin extend beyond simply lowering cholesterol and improving metabolic profile. Studies have shown in a vascular event, patients who are on statins tend to have a better survival rate. Patients should actively screened for cholesterol problems and speak to their doctors about statins so that they can make a well informed decision about their treatment and health.
The number of British adults with diabetes has risen to more than 3.2 million – up by a million in just seven years. New figures show 163,000 people were diagnosed with the condition last year, the biggest total in a year since 2008. This brings the total to 3,208,014 adults with diabetes – or one in 17 of the population. In 2006, the figure was 2.2 million. Diabetes is exceedingly expensive. The NHS in UK spends £14 billion a year – 10 per cent of its budget – treating diabetes and its complications. The authorities in UK feel they are in the middle of an unfolding public health disaster that demands urgent action.
Singapore is similarly not spared from the diabetes tsunami. In year 2004, only 8.2% of Singaporeans age 18-69 was affected. In year 2010, this number has increased at an alarming rate to 11.3% of Singaporeans. This makes Singapore one of the developed countries with the highest incidence of diabetes. In Europe, it is generally around 6 to 9 percent, and worldwide it is 8.5 percent. There are many more out there who are probably unaware and are undiagnosed. The rise of diabetes in Singapore mirrors the rise in obesity from 6.9% in 2004 to 10.8% in 2010. Besides obesity, one of the other biggest risk factor of diabetes is aging. For many people out there, it is no longer a question of whether they will get diabetes, but rather when they will get diabetes.
Diabetes causes a host of health complications ranging from blindness to kidney failure, poor circulation leading to limb amputations, heart attacks and strokes. Besides living an active lifestyle, the other important advice would be to actively screen for the disease and treat the disease aggressively while it is still in the early stage, so as to reduce the risk of succumbing to these dreaded complications.
Half of parents with an overweight or obese child think their kids are slimmer than they actually are, according to a new review of past studies. Recent studies show children who are over weight as a child will most likely remain obese in later life. Parents play a very crucial role in preventing childhood obesity, and interventions are most successful if they involve parents. If the parents do not recognise their child is overweight or are not concerned, they are not going to take steps to address it. An insightful parent is paramount to the successful management of childhood obesity.
Eating yoghurt and low-fat cheese can cut the risk of developing diabetes by around a quarter compared with consuming none, according to a study of 3,500 Britons. While it is not clear how yoghurt exactly lower diabetes risk, there is no doubt that yoghurt is a highly nutritious food with a host of health benefits. So before u reach out for a pack of chips for your snacks, or when you feel like getting a soda, consider switching to a yoghurt. This simple gesture might do a lot for your health than you can imagine.
Women aged 65 years and older are routinely recommended for bone density testing to screen for osteoporosis, but it has been unclear which women between ages 50 and 64 should receive screening. The US Preventative Task Force recommends women age less than 65 whose 10-year fracture risk is equal or greater than that of a 65 year old woman without additional risk factors, should receive screening for osteoporosis. Using this strategy, a recent study found that this would only identify 34 percent of women who actually had bone mineral density in the osteoporosis range, potentially missing a large proportion of cases.
Osteoporosis is a silent disease afflicting many people. Worldwide, 1 in 3 women over 50 will experience osteoporotic fractures in their lifetime, as will 1 in 5 men. The results of this study underscore the importance to screen patients for osteoporosis more opportunistically as a wide range of therapeutic options are available nowadays to treat the disease effectively.
A study shows that children who are overweight in pre-school are likely to stay obese for the rest of their lives. In recent years, not only the incidence of type 2 diabetes is increasing at an alarming rate, a worrying proportion of diabetics are in young people. Given that obesity in childhood predisposes to later life obesity and diabetes, it may be important to start intervening in childhood to curb the risk of developing diabetes in later life. However a well balanced diet is imperative in a growing child. Attempts to restrict calories and lose weight in a young growing child should be done under proper medical supervision.