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Diet and lifestyle change key to beat diabetes

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[Linnet Mavu, leader of Coast Diabuddies, a Mombasa based diabetes support group speaks during an event to mark the World Diabetes Day in Mombasa. Photo/Haramo Ali].

Four people in every 100 Mombasa residents are diabetic.

According to Mombasa County health department, the statistics are also shared in the national figures where the disease seem to affect Kenyans both the old and young.

Speaking in Mombasa on Tuesday, Mombasa health department in charge of non-communicable diseases Esha Bakari said the situation can be contained only if locals embrace better eating habits and exercising.

“This situation can be prevented through avoiding sugary foods, consumption of fries and daily exercises,” she revealed.

Meanwhile the Coast Diabuddies, a Mombasa based diabetes support group is calling for diet and lifestyle changes to beat the disease.

The group has expressed concern over the rise in the number of new diabetes cases at the Coast terming it a ‘ticking time bomb’.

Diabetes is classified into Type 1, which is autoimmune and therefore unpreventable, and Type 2, which can often be prevented by pursuing a healthy lifestyle.

The group’s leader Linnet Mavu noted that diabetes diagnosis is not a death sentence and that it can be managed and reversed through lifestyle changes.

Mavu said her group offers hope to diabetics contending that the disease does not sound a death knell when properly managed.

She spoke at Mama Ngina Waterfront Park in Mombasa during an event to mark the World Diabetes Day, meant to raise awareness of the growing burden of this disease.

Access to Diabetes Care is the theme for this year’s World Diabetes Day and is used as strategies to prevent and treat it.

Treatment costs

Mavu decried that the affordability of medications in general and for insulin in particular is of concern to most people with diabetes who are financially harmed by high prices of medications.

She says non-communicable diseases like high blood pressure, diabetes and cancer are on the increase among youth and adults.

“Poor eating habits and inactivity among the youth and adults is the main cause of obesity and the consequent upsurge of lifestyle diseases”, she said adding that diabetes is a chronic condition characterised by high blood sugar caused by deficient insulin production in the body.

Mavu said the condition is usually associated with consumption of refined foods and sedentary lifestyles that lead to obesity.

She said that lack of low level of awareness, negative attitudes and poor dietary practices leads to the upsurge of the disease in the region.

Impact

She called upon residents to be aware of their personal risk factors and to adopt lifestyles that reduce the risk of contracting the disease.

“For most people coming to terms with the diagnosis is very difficult because diabetes is viewed as a killer disease” she said.

She said while it is true that the disease is chronic, good management of the condition goes a long way to protect patients from dire complications.

She said if left unchecked without management and lifestyle changes diabetes can lead to heart attack, stroke, kidney failure, lower limb amputation, visual impairment and blindness.

Amina Adam, a member of the Coast Diabuddies has called on county governments to invest in stocking essential products like insulin, blood glucometers and test strips available at health facilities.