Posted on April 13, 2016

Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) is encouraging the public to commit to a healthy lifestyle, highlighting how healthy habits can help prevent diabetes. Exercising regularly, limiting the intake of saturated fats and eating more whole grains, fruits and vegetables can significantly reduce one’s risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.

Professor Abdul Badi Abou-Samra (pictured), Chairman of Internal Medicine at HMC, says physical activity is an important strategy for maintaining overall health and preventing conditions like diabetes and heart disease. “Simple activities such as walking for half an hour each day can make a big difference to your health. Regular exercise can help reduce, as well as delay, the development of Type 2 diabetes. For patients who already have diabetes, walking can also help regulate blood sugar levels,” said Prof. Abou-Samra.

The development of Type 2 diabetes generally results from the body’s loss of sensitivity to insulin, the hormone responsible for turning sugar in the blood into energy. Regular exercise helps control glucose levels and can also help prevent obesity, a major risk factor for the disease. Research studies have found that moderate weight loss and exercise can prevent or delay Type 2 diabetes among adults considered to be at high risk of developing the disease.

“Although our genes may influence the development of Type 2 diabetes, behavioral and lifestyle factors also play a large role. Our lifestyle choices, food and exercise habits, determine more than 50% of our health status; the remainder is determined by our environment and our genes.  Data from several internationally conducted clinical trials strongly support the idea that Type 2 diabetes is preventable, with weight loss, dietary changes and increased exercise being found to dramatically lower one’s chances of developing Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and some cancers,” said Prof. Abou-Samra.

The experts stressed that it is important for parents and caregivers to promote the importance of a healthy lifestyle to their children. They also suggest parents and caregivers pay close attention to their child’s diet, as well as how their child uses their free time. “The increased prevalence of junk (fast) food and electronic games are no doubt tied to increasing rates of childhood obesity. Today we see more and more children with Type 2 diabetes. A few decades ago, Type 2 diabetes was considered a disease of the elderly,” said Prof. Abou-Samra.

Experts also stressed the importance of parents and caregivers being good role models for their children, encouraging them to engage in daily physical activity and signing them up to take part in sports such as football, basketball, swimming, gymnastics and horse riding. HMC, in partnership with the Ministry of Public Health and the Primary Health Care Corporation, organized a series of activities to mark World Health Day on 7 and 8 April 2016. The World Health Organization selected raising awareness of diabetes as the theme for World Health Day 2016.

Observed each year on 7 April, World Health Day was introduced by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 1995 and is one of eight official global public health campaigns marked by the organization. HMC’s World Health Day activities were designed to increase the public’s understanding of diabetes and to empower residents to take control of their own health by highlighting the risk factors of the disease, raising awareness of associated signs and symptoms and providing strategies to manage and prevent Type 2 diabetes and other lifestyle-related conditions. For more information on diabetes, visit diabetes.hamad.qa.

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