Whole-of-Society Approach Needed to “Beat Diabetes”

On November 14, the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) observed World Diabetes Day 2016 with the theme “Eyes on Diabetes”. With one in two adults going undiagnosed for type 2 diabetes, this year's activities and materials will focus on promoting the importance of screening to ensure early diagnosis of type 2 diabetes, as well as treatment to reduce the risk of serious complications.

Source: International Diabetes Federation

Earlier this year, the World Health Organization (WHO) launched the “Beat Diabetes” campaign on World Health Day to increase awareness of the rise in diabetes rates, and the staggering burden and consequences of the disease, particularly in low- and middle-income countries.

In Southeast Asia, experts warn that the rise in obesity rates is likely to put more individuals at risk of developing type 2 diabetes, which will have an impact on the health of the region’s population, as well as its health systems. According to the WHO, between the years 2000 and 2030, the prevalence rate of diabetes is expected to more than double within the ASEAN Six – Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam – as obesity rates continue to rise.

Source: International Diabetes Federation

In Singapore, Minister for Health Gan Kim Yong declared a nationwide war on diabetes in April this year, along with plans to set up a taskforce made up of representatives from government agencies, the private sector, and patient advocacy and caregiver groups.

During the debate on his ministry's budget in Parliament, Minister Gan said that of the more than 400,000 diabetics in Singapore, one in three do not even know that they have the disease; and among those diagnosed with the disease, one in three have poor control over it.

Minister Gan also outlined a three-pronged approach to tackling diabetes, which includes the promotion of healthy lifestyles and reduction of obesity rates, strengthening early screening and intervention efforts to identify the disease for those at risk or undiagnosed, and finally, support for better disease control to slow disease progression and reduce complications.

He revealed that if action is not taken, the situation will get worse, following predictions that one out of every three people in Singapore may end up diabetic.

FIA supports the view that a sustainable and multi-stakeholder regional effort is needed to improve diets and stabilise rates of obesity and chronic disease in Asia. FIA recognises the observance of World Diabetes Day 2016 by highlighting how many of its members – major food and beverage companies – have taken innovative steps, including the reformulation of products, to respond to the region’s complex challenges related to health and nutrition, particularly that of non-communicable diseases (NCDs), obesity and diabetes. FIA and its members share common values around the responsible promotion of balanced diets and lifestyles, as we recognise that healthy eating is a key contributing factor in the fight against diabetes.

The global diabetes epidemic has triggered debates and galvanised partnerships among governments, public health bodies, non-governmental organisations, think tanks and the food industry worldwide, as key stakeholders look to develop solutions to help tackle the complex health and nutrition challenges. As part of its mission, FIA is harnessing the power of partnership to launch a multi-stakeholder regional effort to improve diets and stabilise the rates of obesity and NCDs in Asia.

Source: International Diabetes Federation

FIA members are continuously improving product offerings so as to provide healthier options that contain more whole grains and fibre; more calcium, vitamins and minerals; more low-fat dairy, more vegetables and fruit; reduced sodium levels; less fat; less sugar; and fewer calories. This also includes developing more affordable nutrient-dense food products for specific consumer groups, such as diabetics.

FIA and its network of national industry associations are working constructively with governments in Asia on nutrition and health issues, such as diabetes, with the goal of promoting a joined-up dialogue spanning all points of the supply chain and capturing the views of all businesses, including that of small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).