T&T leads Caribbean in diabetes

(Trinidad Guardian) T&T has the highest rate of diabetes in the Caribbean and more than half the population is overweight. Deputy permanent secretary in the Ministry of Health Cheryl Hay said so yesterday at a sensitisation meeting for members of the Cabinet-appointed Partners’ Forum Working Committee for Action on Chronic Non-Communicable Diseases. The meeting was held at the Hyatt Regency, Wrightson Road, Port-of-Spain.

Hay said the preliminary report of the T&T National Risk Factor Survey conducted this year revealed alarming results. She said: “The report confirmed that a large proportion of the population already have the risk factors for developing chronic diseases. “More than half the population is overweight or obese and we are already seeing that 25 per cent of school aged children are overweight or obese.”

The report also revealed that 40 per cent of the population did not get sufficient physical exercise weekly; 90.8 per cent eat less than the recommended five servings of fruit and vegetables daily; 65 per cent of persons, aged 45-64, have three or more risk factors for NCDs; 50 per cent of persons aged 24-64 have three or more risk factors for NCDs. World Diabetes Day also was celebrated yesterday with the slogan, “Act on Diabetes. Now”.

In T&T approximately 175,000 people suffer from the disease, according to the Diabetes Association of T&T. In 2001, 13.4 per cent of the total deaths in T&T was as a result of diabetes. Ten years later, one in seven adults is affected by the sickness. Diabetes Mellitus is a global chronic epidemic affecting millions of people. The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates 346 million people living with the disease and says the figure is likely to double by 2030 without intervention.

Hay told stakeholders the ministry was taking action against diabetes as well as other non-communicable diseases (NCDs). She said: “Besides diabetes, over the past few decades we have also seen an alarming rise in the number of persons developing heart disease, cancers and suffering strokes.” Hay said the development of the country relied on a healthy, productive workforce to build it.

She said: “Trinidad and Tobago is leading the fight against chronic non-communicable diseases in the Caribbean as we are the first Caribbean nation to appoint a partners’ forum. She added: “Let us continue to lead the way for others to follow as the forum creates synergies and catalyses  environmental, social and policy changes that promote health and prevent chronic diseases.”


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