Diabetes symposium set for January

Halting the rise in obesity and diabetes will be the focus of a symposium in January.

As the island marks World Diabetes Day today, the Ministry of Health repeated that it is working towards a national strategy to deal with the problem.

Health minister Kim Wilson said: “The Throne Speech 2017 highlighted my Ministry’s commitment to health and wellness.

“In partnership with broader community organisations who espouse wellness, there is considerable effort and energy behind accomplishing the reversal of the current trends in diabetes and obesity.

“I extend my sincere thanks to all our Well Bermuda partners who are working with us towards this goal; in this case the Bermuda Diabetes Association and the Bermuda Dieticians Association in particular.”

She added that the ministry is determined to reduce healthcare costs and waistlines for the better health of the community.

The diabetes symposium will be held on January 15 and 16, with separate sessions for healthcare providers and the general public.

Bermuda’s rate of diabetes and obesity is considered a public health crisis by the Ministry of Health.

The Steps to a Well Bermuda survey in 2014 showed that one in three people in Bermuda is obese, and one in three have a chronic disease such as diabetes, heart disease and kidney disease.

It also showed that 8.5 per cent of adults had diabetes.

A ministry statement explained that problems associated with diabetes include early onset of blindness, kidney failure, damage to circulation and nerves in the legs that can lead to amputation, circulatory problems, heart disease and stroke.

It added that Bermuda has one of the highest amputation rates per capita in the world, as shown in the Health in Review report.

The statement also pointed out that it “is commonly accepted that there are many additional undiagnosed cases of diabetes”.

The recent health ministry initiative Taking it to the Streets saw nurses survey 361 people.

One third, or 126 people, were sent for further medical assessment because of high blood pressure and high blood sugar readings.

The statement added: “Obesity, and the lifestyle choices that cause it, lead to the early onset of preventable diseases.

“Diabetes is just one. There is now evidence that connects obesity to 13 different kinds of cancer.

“Estimates by the Bermuda Health Council indicate that, based in health insurance claims alone, obesity and diabetes will add over $26 million to our Island’s health costs over the next ten years.

“This is just the direct cost of medical care and does not include indirect costs, like the impact on other conditions, out of pocket payments, subsidies, wages and work hours lost.”

The public is invited to save the date: January 16, 6.30pm to 8pm.