Among numerous non-communicable diseases, diabetes is a burden on contemporary society. It has both social and economic impact, but the unawareness of this fact limits the efficiency of prevention strategies. Diabetes is a chronic disease conditioned by the lack or ineffectiveness of insulin. There are three main types of diabetes: Type 1, Type 2, and gestational (International Diabetes Federation, 2015). Type 1 often develops due to genetic, environmental, and infectious influences.
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Risk factors for Type 2 diabetes are the obesity, lack of physical activity, genetics, bad nutrition, and older age. Gestational type develops during pregnancy and can be dangerous for child and mother (International Diabetes Federation, 2015). Diabetes is among the 16 major public health problems of World Health Organization (Friel & Marmot, 2011). Although diabetes is considered to be the problem of low and middle-income societies, its burden in the developed countries is also increasing.
Epidemiology of diabetes in Belgium
With 415 million people with diabetes in the world and above 59.8 million in Europe, Belgium’s diabetes occurrence was 543,100 cases as of 2015. (Belgium, n.d.). As of 2013, diabetes raw national prevalence was 6.45%. Diabetes-related deaths within the age range of 20-79 amounted to 4,160 people (Diabetes global scorecard, 2014). Besides, there were about 20% of people with undiagnosed diabetes.
According to Global estimates of diabetes prevalence for 2013 (Guariguata, Whiting, Hambleton, Beagley, Linnenkamp, & Shaw, 2013), prevalence adjusted to the national population in Belgium is 6.4% and is expected to grow to 7.3% by 2035. This percentage is among the lowest in Europe.
Risk factors for diabetes in Belgium and the United States
For Belgium, age can be among the important risk factors for diabetes, as 30.8% of European population are between 50 and 79 years old (International Diabetes Federation, 2015). However, this is a factor that cannot be modified. Modifiable factors like unhealthy diet and physical inactivity apply to Belgium too. As for the United States, the major risk factors are unhealthy diet and lack of physical activity as well. Still, a more important factor is overweight and obesity that results from the wrong nutrition and passive life.
Initiatives to reduce the burden of diabetes
Beaglehole et al. (2011) suggest the list of actions to overcome the crisis of non-communicable diseases. Since diabetes is among the most spread of these diseases, the following strategies can be applied to it as well. Thus, the priority interventions for non-communicable diseases include selection criteria, accelerated tobacco control, salt reduction, promotion of healthy diet and physical activity, reduction of harmful alcohol consumption, and access to essential drugs and technologies (Beaglehole et al.,2011). Speaking of gestational diabetes, more attention should be drawn to the effective screening (Benhalima, Crombrugge, Devlieger, Verhaeghe, Verhaegen, Catte, & Mathieu, 2013).
The fiscal and marketing policies can be used to promote healthy consumption to reduce the burden of diabetes. Cardio-metabolic risk as a factor accompanying diabetes should be assessed and managed carefully. Besides, the healthy and active way of life should be promoted at workplaces and schools. International Diabetes Federation is in charge of activities aimed at the reduction of diabetes epidemic (IDF Europe – advocacy, 2015).
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Diabetes is a disease that is easier to prevent than to cure. In the majority of cases, it is obtained due to the unhealthy way of life. Governments of many countries establish programs to support the citizens with diabetes. However, it is the task of every person to review the lifestyles and abandon the unhealthy habits not to get the almost incurable disease.
Beaglehole, R., Bonita, R., Horton, R., Adams, C., Alleyne, G., … Watt J. (2011). Priority actions for the non-communicable disease crisis. The Lancet, 377(9775), 1438-1447.
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Friel, S., & Marmot, M. G. (2011). Action on the social determinants of health and health inequities goes global. Annual Review of Public Health, 32, 225–236.
Guariguata, L., Whiting, D.R., Hambleton, I., Beagley, J., Linnenkamp, U., & Shaw, J.E. (2013). Global estimates of diabetes prevalence for 2013 and projections for 2035. Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice, 103(2), 137-149. Web.
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International Diabetes Federation. (2015). IFD diabetes atlas (7th ed.). Web.