Are you at risk of developing diabetes?


World Diabetes Day takes place on 14 November, and the theme this year is Women and diabetes – our right to a healthy future.

According to the National Department of Health, more than half of South African women are overweight or obese, with the statistic for black women being as high as 60 per cent.

Obesity and its co-morbidities, including diabetes, negatively affect the lives of many South Africans and places an enormous burden on the cost of healthcare, both in the public and private sectors.

There are currently over 199 million women living with diabetes. This total is expected to increase to 313 million by 2040.

Some of the risk factors for developing diabetes include:

  • Being aged 35 or over
  • Being overweight (especially if you carry most of your weight around your middle)
  • Being a member of a high-risk group (in South Africa if you are of Indian descent you are at particular risk)
  • Having a family history of diabetes
  • Having given birth to a baby that weighed over 4kg at birth, or have had gestational diabetes during pregnancy
  • Having high cholesterol or other fats in the blood
  • Having high blood pressure or heart disease

Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes. Symptoms of diabetes include unusual thirst, frequent urination, unusual weight loss, extreme fatigue or lack of energy, blurred vision, frequent or recurring infections and slow healing of cuts and bruises, and tingling in the hands and feet. Unfortunately, many people with type 2 diabetes show no symptoms!

Dr Albert Niemann, a physician with a special interest in obesity, explains that having insulin resistance precedes the development of pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes. “Insulin resistance is part of the metabolic syndrome and is caused by both lifestyle and genetic factors. The pancreas produces more insulin and the body’s cells become resistant to the effect of insulin,” Dr Nieman said.

“Managing insulin resistance should involve limiting carbohydrates, avoiding sweetened beverages, eating more fibre, limiting portions, including enough protein, including fat-free dairy products and in so doing reducing a person’s visceral or central body fat. Regular and sustained exercise is also vital.”

Niemann’s advice to people who need to lose weight and maintain a healthy weight is to speak to their healthcare practitioner.

Do you suffer from diabetes? Share your stories with us on WhatsApp 079 439 5345

Staff Reporter

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