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The Not-So-Sweet Truth About Diabetes: Not If But When

By the time they are 69, one in three Singaporeans will develop diabetes. It is one of the most pressing health issues locally, and as Professor Chia Kee Seng, Dean of the Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health, NUS, puts it: “It is no longer a question of ‘if I will get diabetes’, but ‘when I will get diabetes’.”

Diabetes is a condition whereby too much glucose, or sugar, is present in the blood. This sugar comes from food that has been consumed, such as rice, pasta, cakes, fizzy drinks and dairy items. During digestion, some of the food consumed is turned into blood glucose, which provides energy for the human body.

However, in order to use blood glucose as a source of energy, the presence of insulin is necessary. Insulin is a hormone, which helps to bring down sugar levels in the blood.

A lack of insulin, therefore, results in high sugar levels or diabetes.

The School completed a systematic review in 2011 for diabetes mellitus type 2, a condition where the body is insulin-deficient, or has a resistance to the action of insulin. This condition is also sometimes referred to as a “lifestyle” disease, as it is more common among people who not exercise regularly, or have an unhealthy diet and are overweight.

In spite of chronic diseases such as diabetes being among the costliest and the most common health problems, they are also the most preventable. Some primary prevention practices include having 30 minutes of moderate exercise daily and eating a balanced diet.

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