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Nov 14, 2017

“Sugar” on the Rise – More Women at Risk

Diabetes is on the rise across the world. More than four hundred million persons are living with the disease and women make up those hardest hit by this growing epidemic. Global statistics show that diabetes is the ninth leading cause of death in women, causing over two million deaths every year. The latest figures also show that two out of every five women with diabetes are of reproductive age. So, where does Belize lie in all these global stats? Well, the numbers are a cause for concern because there are more than fifty thousand living with the disease. At today’s observance of World Diabetes Day, the focus was on diabetes and women.  News Five’s Andrea Polanco reports.


Andrea Polanco, Reporting

Four hundred and twenty-five million persons are living with diabetes. Across the world, diabetes is on the rise and locally the number is worrying – there are more than fifty thousand Belizeans between the ages of twenty and seventy-nine who are living with the disease.


Anthony Castillo, President, Belize Diabetes Association

“Even for us here in Belize our number has increased. The last number stated that fourteen point two of the population was living with diabetes. I think we have now moved to fifteen point seven. So, as I said, Diabetes is on the rise world-wide even for us here in Belize.”


Anthony Castillo

Andrea Polanco

“How concerning is this fifteen point seven percent?”


Anthony Castillo, President, Belize Diabetes Association

“It is very, very concerning. We at the Association, we try to inform and educate Belizeans living a healthy lifestyle. While, we do our part, the Association alone cannot do it. We need efforts from all bodies.”


Of that number, many are women – globally and locally. According to the International Diabetes Federation, women are more at risk of developing the disease. And, so, in honor of World Diabetes 2017, the theme recognizes women’s vulnerability to the global epidemic and their ability to help change those alarming numbers.


Anthony Castillo

“The theme this year is Women and Diabetes. The International Diabetes Federation is saying that women play a major role in the care and control of diabetes and many times, they do not get the recognition, which they deserve. In many cases, when a person develops diabetes in the home, it is the women who take care of these people. And even when the women themselves develop diabetes, they still have to take care of the persons who are living with the condition including themselves. In other parts of the world, there is not equitable access to education, medication and care of diabetes. So the Federation decided this year that we need to celebrate all the women who have contributed so much to the care and control of diabetes.”


President Castillo says that it is critical that the population be engaged at a young age – as another group affected by diabetes are children and young adults.


Anthony Castillo

“What is alarming to us is children and young adults developing type-two diabetes which is a lifestyle condition. So, you develop type-two diabetes because you were probably were not eating healthy and you become obese. So, it is what you do and don’t do with yourself that allows you to develop type-two diabetes. So, it is alarming to see children developing type two; in type-one it is because they were born with the condition. But when they develop type-two it is because of something they are not doing with themselves – they are not exercising, they are becoming obese and stuff like that.”



“Is that reversible?”


Anthony Castillo

“No. Unfortunately, no. At this time the International Diabetes Federation continues to look for a cure; at this time, there is no cure, but once you develop the condition, you will be living with diabetes for the remainder of your life.”


But education and awareness of the disease make up only one part of tackling diabetes. Lifestyle change and policies are needed to help to control or reduce this silent killer.


Anthony Castillo

“There are already plans in what we can do where the schools are concerned. As you may have heard from Robin Daly, the nutritionist from the Ministry of Health, they are looking at healthy diet and meals that are served in school. We will probably begin with that and then we need to look at all the sweet intake available for our children. We need to look at what the children are purchasing at school. We at home may be giving health meals for our children, but then they may purchase meals at school and here is where we need to put something in place to have healthy meals either in homes and or  when they go to school.”


Reporting for News Five, I’m Andrea Polanco.

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