Officials worried about the threat posed by diabetes
With over 50 per cent of men and nearly 70 per cent of women in Barbados said to be either obese or overweight, Minister of Health John Boyce last night warned that urgent action was now required to halt the island’s worrying health slide.
Speaking at the Frank Collymore Hall where Oxford University physicist and genetic researcher Dr Frances Ashcroft delivered the 29th Sir Winston Scott Memorial lecture on the topic Diabetes: A Tale of Genes and Sugar, Boyce also acknowledged that close to 20 per cent of adults on the island suffered from diabetes, while up to 35 per cent were hypertensive.
“All these figures represent increases over the findings of the 2007 risk factor survey,” the Minister pointed out, adding that “a more worrying trend is the rise in obesity and overweight among children, which in 2012 was reported to be 30 per cent”.
He also warned that management of diabetes and other non-communicable diseases carried high economic costs and were usually “accompanied by high social and emotional burdens on families in terms of increased care, taking responsibilities, and changes in roles in the household”.
Concerned about the overall risk posed to the country, he reported that “the Cabinet of Barbados has agreed to the establishment of an inter-ministerial committee which will coordinate all NCD policies” but did not provide any details.
Meantime, Dr Ashcroft noted that globally over five million people had died from diabetes last year.
“That is one person every six seconds, or 600 people an hour,” she explained, pointing out that the Barbados figure stood at over 40,000 of the worldwide population of 382 million diabetic patients.
“What that means is that many of you in this audience actually have diabetes or will develop it later in life,” she warned.
Delivering introductory remarks, Governor of the Central Bank Dr Delisle Worrell spoke of the lifestyle disease as one of affluence.
“The change in health focus is an unintended consequence of our success in modernizing our economy and transforming the quality of our lives,” he said.