World Health Day 2016 – Diabetes

What do Vanessa Williams, Randy Jackson, Halle Berry, Tom Hanks and Aretha Franklin have in common – other than being famous? Diabetes.

These are just some of the celebrities that suffer from diabetes, a condition is sweeping over the globe like a tsunami. Access to processed fast-food, inactive lifestyles, stress and even – in some cases –  genetics, has pushed diabetes to the top of the killer list. And, if you think that diabetes only happens to older or obese people, we have some surprising news for you.

Salma Hayek

The beautiful and talented actress got gestational diabetes while expecting her first child. It occurs in women who have high blood sugar levels during pregnancy. Being diagnosed with gestational diabetes doesn’t mean that the sufferer had diabetes before falling pregnant, and for most women, blood glucose levels return to normal after pregnancy. However, in 5 to 10 percent of women with gestational diabetes, blood glucose levels do not return to normal. Women who suffer from gestational diabetes during pregnancy may be at higher risk for type 2 diabetes later in life, and should be tested at least every 3 years for diabetes or prediabetes.

Nick Jonas

At the age of 13, Nick Jonas was riding the crest of the music wave with his two older brothers as the Jonas Brothers Band played to sold-out concerts of devoted fans. But something wasn’t right with the personable 13-yr-old: suddenly he was losing weight, feeling thirsty all the time and battling with really bad moods. A trip to the doctor led to a stay in hospital – Nick was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and the fight to stabilise his blood sugar levels was on. Today, aged 23, Nick uses an insulin pump to help him manage his condition.

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Tom Hanks

What is your favourite Hanks movie? Forrest Gump, Saving Private Ryan, Cast Away? Most people know this actor, but they may not know that he was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in 2013. He revealed that he’d been experiencing high blood sugar for about 20 years as he put on and lost weight for various roles. Revealing his diagnosis on the Letterman show, Hanks said: “I went to the doctor and he said ‘You know those high blood sugar numbers you’ve been dealing with since you were 36? Well, you’ve graduated. You’ve got Type 2 diabetes, young man”. Type 2 diabetes is managed with medication, maintaining a healthy weight and regular exercise

Some quick facts:

  • 5% of adults worldwide have diabetes
  • 5 million people died as a result of diabetes in 2012
  • 2 million additional deaths were caused by higher-than-optimal blood glucose
  • 43% of these 3.7m people died before they were 70 years old

So, this is no small or local issue. Diabetes crosses age and economic lines, but there are simple ways to prevent and manage it:

  1. Physical exercise
  2. Healthier eating and drinking
  3. Early diagnosis
  4. Learning how to manage the condition every day