JIS News

Executive Director of the Diabetes Association of Jamaica’s (DAJ) Outreach Programme, Owen Bernard, has expressed concern about the growing number of young persons, who were developing Type 2 diabetes.
“We use to think that it was an old people disease. We are seeing a lot more young people with Type 2 diabetes. This is very serious and the numbers are certainly not going down,” he told JIS News, adding that the problem was not unique to Jamaica. As such, he argued that there was now a need to revisit the classifications of diabetes, as given the current trend, the categories were no longer accurate.
Type 2 diabetes commonly develops in people over the age of 40 years and is usually referred to as non-insulin dependent or adult onset diabetes. Persons living with the condition produce insulin but in some cases, do not make enough of it or their bodies do not use the insulin they make. Usually, children and adolescents develop the Type 1 category otherwise referred to as insulin dependent diabetes. This is the most severe form of diabetes, which presents itself soon after birth. In order to stay alive, persons with this type of diabetes must take daily injections of insulin. Commenting on the reasons for the growing number of young people with the Type 2 condition, Mr. Bernard opined that the problem stemmed from changes in lifestyle. “Think about what we are doing differently now and how we live; life has become a little easier, we do not really have to struggle to find food, it is all there pre-packaged,” he posited.
Children, he noted further, were leading more sedentary lifestyles as many spent a lot of time in front of the computer. “Children sit in front of computers instead of going out to play,” he lamented.
In addition, he said, there was the matter of the increased consumption of fast food. “I am not condemning fast food places but it is how we go about preparing food. We need to think more about our health, so instead of frying, bake the food,” Mr. Bernard advised.
He commended the Ministry of Health for its role in promoting health and working with the fast food industry.
In the meantime, National Diabetes Week will be observed from November 12 to 18 under the theme: ‘Diabetes Care for Everyone’.
Activities kick off tomorrow with a church service at the St. Andrew Parish Church, 4 Hagley Park Road, starting at 9:15 a.m. and the Ministry of Health’s popular ‘Celebrating Health Festival’ at Emancipation Park. The festival will be an all-day affair, where screening for diabetes among other activities will take place.”
Throughout the week, screenings will be conducted at various branches of the DAJ. Persons are advised to visit the branches in their parishes. For World Diabetes Day on November 14, KLAS FM will conduct an outside broadcast from the offices of the DAJ at 1 Downer Avenue and public education and screening for the disease will take place at the Falmouth Branch of the DAJ. Some 300,000 Jamaicans are living with diabetes.