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Media Workshop on Diabetes Pandemic

Medical experts predict that seven out of ten Asians will be diabetic by 2030, raising the diabetes prevalence to pandemic levels. This continent houses India, China, Indonesia, and Japan – top countries with the most number of diabetics in the world.

The Philippines ranks 9th in Asia in terms of diabetes cases. Based on the latest National Nutritionn and Health Survey, the Philippines has a 4.6 percent diabetes prevalence rate. It is with this sense of urgency that pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) held the forum “Type 2 Diabetes: A Global Pandemic Media Workshop” last December 4, 2006 at the Makati Shangri-la Hotel. The smallgroup discussion gathered the country’s writers and editors from various health publications. Even workshop speaker Dr. Patricia Gatbonton is an editor for HealthNews magazine.

According to Dr. Gatbonton, the shift from traditional to Western diet is partly to blame for the ballooning cases of diabetes in Asia. “Diabetes is a lifestyle disease which calls for modification in lifestyle,” she said. However, most diabetics are either unaware of their condition or indifferent in properly managing their disease. Dr. Gatbonton cited data from Diabcare Study 2003 showing that 91 percent of Filipinos with type 2 diabetes have a mean HbAlc levell of 8.2 percent which translates to poor blood glucose control. For Filipinos, the ideal HbAlc or the average blood sugar for the last three months is 6.5 percent. “HbAlc cannot be faked. It is the gold standard measure and the most important tool in monitoring blood sugar,” Dr. Gatbonton said.

Furthermore, good blood glucose control is essential to prevent the development of diabetes-related complications. Dr. Gatbonton discussed drug therapy and the main kinds of treatments for people with type 2 diabetes: sulphonylureas, biguanides, thiazolidinediones, insulin, and glucosidase inhibitors. She said these drugs, however, don’t come without side effects. Along with exercise, proper diet remains to be one of the safest ways to complement healthy lifestyle with or without diabetes. As Dr. Gatbonton puts it, “Diabetic diet is not just for diabetics, it’s a healthy meal for everyone.”

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