World Diabetes Day

Kenyan consumes more sugar than all African countries, with the exception of South Africa and Swaziland, this is according to World Health Organization (WHO). Kenyans consume 60gms of sugar per day, compared to Tanzanians’ typical 23gm, 5gm for Indians, and an average of just over 15gm a day for the Chinese. The high intake of sugar could lead to lifestyle diseases and Type 2 diabetes, which is affecting Kenyans as young as 16 years. 5 per cent of Kenyans in their 20s are now suffering from the permanent and draining condition, which causes comas, blindness, leg amputations and kidney failure. These are ailments that traditionally were perceived to affect the elderly.

Over the past two decades, lifestyle diseases have become the leading health risk factors in low and middle income countries. “Poor lifestyles, limited exercise and high sugar, fat and salt diets are converting into an array of lifestyle diseases that are set to be the cause of death for 60 per cent of Kenyans by the year 2030,” said Mr. Bimal Shah MD of Broadway Bakery. “But of all of them, the condition galloping the fastest in Kenya and killing the most Kenyans is diabetes.”

As the world marks World Diabetes Day on the 14th November. It is important for people to get tested on their diabetes status through a blood test that involves a split-second needle prick on the thumb. Early diagnosis is key to survival and a healthy life. Currently there is a looming health crisis that can be attributed to poor eating habits and the high uptake of processed foods.

“If Kenyans do not stop ladling sugar into their tea and coffee, drinking sugar-laden beverages and exposing their children to sugary and sweet treats in large quantities, diabetes is on its way to becoming a catastrophe for both the health system and the nation,” said Mr. Shah.

Diabetes has been termed as a killer disease. A recent study commissioned by Broadway Bakery found that almost every Kenyan has a member of their close family or friends suffering from diabetes. To counter this disease Broadways Bakery has been spear heading a campaign “Be sugar smart” which aims at raising awareness on sugar consumption across Kenya. Sugar is not bad, but should be consumed in moderation. Also it is important that manufacturers of processed foods be urged to produce healthier foods with low sugar, fat and cholesterol content. People should also engage in physical exercise and eat more fruits and vegetables.

“Diabetes is manageable and not necessarily a death sentence. You only need to get tested to know whether you have it or not. There is a need for more awareness, especially among the young, since it is a group that is usually neglected,” said Mr. Shah.

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