This year on World Diabetes Day which occurred on the 14th of November, the theme of this year’s campaign was Women and Diabetes. The slogan for the 2017 campaign led by the International Diabetes Federation, is “Our right to a healthy future.” There are currently over 199 million women worldwide, living with Diabetes and the projected number of women with diabetes is expected to rise to 313 million by the year 2040. Globally diabetes is the ninth leading cause of death with 2.1 million deaths each year. Diabetes is linked with a higher risk of heart attacks, strokes, blindness, kidney failure and lower limb amputations.
Diabetes in pregnancy (Gestational Diabetes Mellitus - GDM) is diagnosed in 5-10% of pregnancies and if not well controlled can increase the risk of complications for both mother and baby. Risk factors for GDM are being over 25, overweight or obese, having a family history of Diabetes Type 2, certain ethnic backgrounds, history of Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), previous GDM, family history of GDM and previous given birth to a large baby. Women who have had GDM have a higher risk of developing type 2, this can also increase the risk of the baby being overweight and having
Diabetes type 2. Complications of poorly controlled Diabetes can significantly reduce quality of life. Women with type 2 Diabetes have a higher risk of developing depression. They also have a 10 times higher risk of heart disease than people who don’t have Diabetes. Worldwide more women die from complications of Diabetes than men. The figures and statements sound grim, don’t they?
I have been involved in Diabetes Education for nearly five years. During this time, I have seen people with Diabetes from a range of backgrounds, both men and women, with different ethnicities, education levels and income. For the most part, the information I provide as a Diabetes professional is pretty much the same for each person. However, the results obtained from the Diabetes education vary greatly. I have found that women are generally more open to improving their lifestyles than men. They are often the caretakers of household nutrition for their family. If they embrace healthy lifestyle changes, this can have a positive impact on the health of all their family members. Healthy lifestyle messages are best instilled during childhood and adolescence, as that is when the potential for behavioural modification is greatest.
Balancing the demands of work and family for most women can be difficult at times and a lot of my clients struggle to make time for good healthy lifestyle choices. The excuses are many and varied for not eating well and exercising. I often talk about what would happen to their family if they were unable to take care of them due to a stroke or heart attack. I try to help them understand that making time to become healthy and to stay healthy, is an effective use of their time.
The diagnosis of Diabetes can lead to positive lifestyle change and improved health outcomes. Ignoring Diabetes can lead to poor health outcomes and reduced quality of life. As with most things the choice is yours.
“To know and not to do is really not to know.” ― Stephen R. Covey References 1.Nishtar Sania, 2017, Diabetes is a serious women’s health issue, Diabetes Voice Online, Volume 64 - Issue 3,4-5 2.IDF, 2017, All women with diabetes deserve the right to a healthy future, Diabetes Voice Online, Vol 64, Issue 3, 16. 3.Lynn Jessica, 2017, Diabetes in pregnancy: an opportunity for healthy change, Diabetes Voice Online, Issue 3, 30-32