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Statistics from the Registrar General’s Department (RGD) have identified diabetes as the second leading cause of deaths in adults, with the disease accounting for a total of 1,477 deaths in 2002.
As contained in the RGD’s 2002 Vital Statistics Report, women made up the majority of persons who perished from the disease, with 927 reported deaths. This is a reduction from the 976 women who died in 2001. A total of 550 males died from diabetes in 2002.
The vast majority of male and female deaths were found to be those in the 55 and over age category, with the largest numbers occurring between the ages of 70 and 74 years.
Diabetes is a disease that affects the body’s ability to produce or respond to insulin, a hormone that allows blood glucose (blood sugar) to enter the cells of the body and to be used for energy. Diabetes falls into two main categories: Type 1, which usually occurs during childhood or adolescence, and Type 2, the most common form of the disease, which usually occurs after age 45, but is increasingly being diagnosed in children and adolescents.
The risk of developing Type 2 diabetes increases with age, obesity, and lack of physical activity.
Diabetes is a unique condition for women. The fact is that women are more prone to weight gain for a variety of biological and lifestyle reasons. For example, women store fat more easily than men because female hormones tend to promote the formation of fat.
Before puberty, boys and girls have about the same amount of body fat. Then after puberty (by around age 20), girls have 22 per cent body fat, and active boys only have about 10 per cent.
In a nutshell, male hormones keep muscle mass high and fat levels low. Female hormones do just the opposite. In addition, men tend to be more active than women and lose weight faster.
When compared with men, women have a 50 percent greater risk of diabetic coma, a condition brought on by poorly controlled diabetes and lack of insulin. Women with diabetes have heart disease rates similar to men, but more women with diabetes die from a first heart attack than do men with diabetes.
The disease also poses special challenges during pregnancy. Compared with women who do not have diabetes, women with diabetes are up to five times more likely to develop toxemia, a disorder marked by hypertension, protein in the urine, swelling, headache, and visual disturbances.
During pregnancy, the disease (gestational diabetes) results in an increased risk for problems such as high birth weight, birth defects, and other complications for the mother.
Health experts have continued to emphasise the link between obesity and diabetes. According to the Pharmaceutical Journal, no condition and disease are as closely associated as obesity and Type 2 diabetes.Local officials have also maintained that, the influx of fast-food restaurants may add to Jamaica’s obese population, as is the case with other countries.
This Sunday, November 14 is being observed as World Diabetes Day under the theme, ‘Fight Obesity, Prevent Diabetes’.