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Citizens urged to play role in Diabetes prevention

World Diabetes Day 2018 observed under the theme, "The Family and Diabetes," aimed to raise awareness of the impact of the disease on the individual and family and to promote the role of the family in its management, prevention, care and education. Photo: GIS
The BVI Health Services Authority through a release from the Government Information Service said that diabetes risk factors include obesity, poor dietary choices, sedentary lifestyle, chronic alcohol use and smoking. Photo: GIS
The BVI Health Services Authority through a release from the Government Information Service said that diabetes risk factors include obesity, poor dietary choices, sedentary lifestyle, chronic alcohol use and smoking. Photo: GIS
Diabetes Mellitus is a chronic disease in which the body’s ability to produce or respond to the hormone insulin is impaired, resulting in abnormal metabolism of carbohydrates and elevated levels of glucose in the blood which negatively impacts on the body. Photo: GIS
Diabetes Mellitus is a chronic disease in which the body’s ability to produce or respond to the hormone insulin is impaired, resulting in abnormal metabolism of carbohydrates and elevated levels of glucose in the blood which negatively impacts on the body. Photo: GIS
ROAD TOWN, Tortola, VI – In commemoration of World Diabetes Day on November 14, 2018, individuals and families in the Virgin Islands (VI) were reminded of the important role they play in diabetes prevention.

The day, observed under the theme, "The Family and Diabetes," aimed to raise awareness of the impacts of the disease on the individual and family, and to promote the role of the family in its management, prevention, care and education.

Long-term care

The BVI Health Services Authority through a release from the Government Information Service said that diabetes risk factors include obesity, poor dietary choices, sedentary lifestyle, chronic alcohol use and smoking. Some genetics and family history also play a small role.

According to the information, Consultant Internist, Dr Chrisel Chichester said, “Family members who are often the primary caregivers and main support for patients living with diabetes, do not get enough credit and often times do not realise the value of their role”.

 “Diabetes is a chronic illness that requires long-term care and management and though patients are afflicted with the illness, it is the relatives that bear a lot of the burden dealing with the consequences of the disease... That is why it is imperative for relatives to understand their role in the prevention and management of diabetes,” Dr Christopher said.

The consultant explained that diabetes is way more prevalent in our small community of the VI than it should be and a culture shift is needed to address the health matter.

Pay attention to your health

Dr Chichester said that by the time someone presents with symptoms of diabetes they would have likely been diabetic five to seven years prior. 

She urged the practice of seeking health care even when one feels well, “diabetes is a process that happens over a period of years… these persons are usually asymptomatic for many years,” she said.

“They feel well and when we feel well, we are reassured that we are okay but on a microscopic level there are a lot of changes happening.” 

She added that poor lifestyle choices also add to the disease, “There are certain things that we need to unlearn that we have learnt over time,” Dr Chichester said.

 “We need to teach the very young about healthy dietary practices and the importance of physical activity and making healthy lifestyle choices and we need to make sure that meals provided in schools and home are appropriate.”

Diabetes Mellitus is a chronic disease in which the body’s ability to produce or respond to the hormone insulin is impaired, resulting in abnormal metabolism of carbohydrates and elevated levels of glucose in the blood which negatively impacts the body.

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