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Heavy burden to bear

NASSAU — More than 35,000 Bahamians have diabetes, and the economic burden related to the non-communicable disease is estimated to be over $150 million annually, the Bahamas Diabetes Association warned yesterday.

“The work of the association in prevention and education is of great importance,” the BDA said in a statement released yesterday, World Diabetes Day.

That figure has increased considerably in the past 10 years as health care costs have increased. According to CARICOM‚statistics, in 2002 the economic burden related to diabetes and hypertension in The Bahamas was nearly $60 million.

And while roughly 10 per cent of the population has diabetes, the association said with 70 per cent of Bahamians being overweight the potential for the rate of diabetes to rise is great.

“Persons who are overweight or obese are at great risk of developing type two diabetes,” the association said. “Many people in The Bahamas are therefore at risk as 40 per cent of adults here are obese and 30 per cent are overweight, with women having higher rates of obesity and being overweight than men.”

The association in the statement called on Bahamians to get screened, exercise regularly and eat a proper diet.

The association also recommended at least 30 minutes of moderately intense physical activity [such as] a brisk walk several days a week and the maintenance of a healthy weight.

“If you are overweight or obese you should lose one to two pounds of weight per week. You should also limit sweet and fatty foods in your diet and prepare meals by doing more baking rather than frying. Eat well-balanced meals which should consist of a protein rich food such as fish, chicken or turkey, a serving of vegetables, a starch like whole wheat bread, brown rice or whole wheat pasta, and a piece of fruit or a dairy product,” the statement said.

Diabetes is considered the fifth leading cause of death in The Bahamas. (Nassau Guardian)

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