Diabetes a serious threat to Barbados

Chief Medical Officer, Dr Joy St John (left) and vice-president of the International Diabetes Federation, Anne Belton in conversation

Records show that in 2001 the estimated direct and indirect cost of diabetes to the economy of Barbados was in excess of $75 million.

Chief Medical Officer, Dr Joy St John, made this disclosure yesterday while speaking at the first annual Multidisciplinary Diabetes Conference at the Hilton Barbados Resort, Needhams Point, St Michael.

St John further stated that in 2007 statistics showed that 29 000 individuals in Barbados were living with diabetes and its complications and a further 5 000 persons had undiagnosed diabetes, or were at a high risk of developing diabetes in the near future.

The Chief Medical Officer noted that coinciding with the prevalence of diabetes was the fact that 70 per cent of adult females and 62 per cent of males were characterised as either overweight and or obese.

St John further noted that for the years 2010 through 2012, there was an average of 25 000 annual visits to the island’s polyclinics by persons with diabetes. On average, 60 persons presented themselves for the first time with the diagnosis of diabetes.

Warning that Barbadians needed to change their life style if they were to overcome the threat presented by diabetes and other non-communicable diseases, St John said: “It is estimated that 30 per cent of school aged children are overweight and another 14.4 per cent are obese. The Global School Health Survey 2012 indicates that 75 per cent of children drank fizzy drinks three or more times per week. The survey further showed that only 40 per cent were achieving the recommended 60 minutes of moderate daily physical activity and exercise. It also showed that only 30 per cent of school aged children were consuming the recommended five servings of fruit and vegetables per day.”

Some of those present at yesterday’s conference

The top health official lauded the work being done by the Diabetes Foundation of Barbados under the leadership of Dr Oscar Jordan.

She noted that the foundation has realised its goal of providing primary and secondary care diabetes services at the Maria Holder Diabetes Centre In Warrens, St Michael.

Meanwhile, in her key note presentation, vice-president of the International Diabetes Federation, Anne Belton, addressed the issue of the growing number of diabetics around the world and in the Caribbean region.

Belton spoke about the programme that has been initiated by the International Diabetes Federation, where it was recruiting young people to assist in the drive to address the threat presented by the disease.

She also spoke about a programme that has been developed in the schools to assist teachers in understanding diabetes.

She said: “We found that children who have diabetes are often marginalised in the school environment. They are not allowed to go on bus trips and even in some countries they are not allowed to attend schools because they have diabetes.” (NC)


8 Responses to Diabetes a serious threat to Barbados

  1. Patrick Blackman June 14, 2015 at 3:30 pm

    A comprehensive healthcare policy from the government would surely have clarified this problem and how it would be addressed, yet we take our direction from others.


  2. Patrick Blackman June 14, 2015 at 3:47 pm

    “The Chief Medical Officer noted that coinciding with the prevalence of diabetes was the fact that 70 per cent of adult females and 62 per cent of males were characterised as either overweight and or obese.”

    Now Chief Medical Officer, lead by example (this is NOT fat shaming).

  3. Colin A Alexander
    Colin A Alexander June 15, 2015 at 1:02 am

    It’s all about diet.

  4. Maria Leclair
    Maria Leclair June 15, 2015 at 1:22 am

    Every time I have read an article on diabetes coming out of BIM there has always been mention of overweight, obesity. With diet and exercise as prevention. There is no mention of other causes of diabetes, wonder why that is.

  5. jrsmith June 15, 2015 at 8:47 am

    Everything which influence’s our way of life and basic living standards , if not under proper management, is a failure and a threat , not only diabetes.
    As someone with type(2) diabetes for the past decade, I am always challenging the question, even in the UK,where I reside, the line people needing to change they life style, this term to me carries no weight.
    I have a friend, I forced him to have some test done, because he started having symptoms similar to myself ,prior to me discovering I was diabetic, after his testing ,he was told , he was diabetic , type (2) and this could be manage , by medication , he also need to change his life style. his take if he is on medication, he then could reduce his intake of alcohol by 25%, which the medication would take care of the 75%, he could then carry on drinking. My words to him ,stop drinking , I have change my life style I am not drinking as much and I am on tablets.
    Since time past ,he sits in a wheel chair, half his body paralyse.
    Its hard to manage people, its to make the common environment
    always directed at them to follow instructed ideas and directives.

  6. Tony Waterman June 15, 2015 at 1:48 pm

    I wish that this Multidisciplinary Diabetes Conference could have been held much earlier, before the Mighty Sir Hilary Beckles had made his now INFAMOUS speech in The UK, with that SILLY Statement he made about, Diabetes in Barbados being caused by Slavery, instead of the real cause, Macaroni pie 24/7, Fried Chicken, and Busta everyday.

  7. Tony Waterman June 15, 2015 at 2:06 pm

    @Maria Leclair!!!!! I would like to assume that the reason for that, is the Fact that, Not a lot is really Internationally know about Diabetes, and all Bim is saying is what is being said Internationally, nothing devious about that.
    Here are some enlightening FACTS About Diabetes.

    What causes type 1 diabetes?

    Type 1 diabetes is caused by a lack of insulin due to the destruction of insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas. In type 1 diabetes—an autoimmune disease—the body’s immune system attacks and destroys the beta cells. Normally, the immune system protects the body from infection by identifying and destroying bacteria, viruses, and other potentially harmful foreign substances. But in autoimmune diseases, the immune system attacks the body’s own cells. In type 1 diabetes, beta cell destruction may take place over several years, but symptoms of the disease usually develop over a short period of time.

    Type 1 diabetes typically occurs in children and young adults, though it can appear at any age. In the past, type 1 diabetes was called juvenile diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus.

    Latent autoimmune diabetes in adults (LADA) may be a slowly developing kind of type 1 diabetes. Diagnosis usually occurs after age 30. In LADA, as in type 1 diabetes, the body’s immune system destroys the beta cells. At the time of diagnosis, people with LADA may still produce their own insulin, but eventually most will need insulin shots or an insulin pump to control blood glucose levels.

    What causes type 2 diabetes?

    Type 2 diabetes—the most common form of diabetes—is caused by a combination of factors, including insulin resistance, a condition in which the body’s muscle, fat, and liver cells do not use insulin effectively. Type 2 diabetes develops when the body can no longer produce enough insulin to compensate for the impaired ability to use insulin. Symptoms of type 2 diabetes may develop gradually and can be subtle; some people with type 2 diabetes remain undiagnosed for years.

    Type 2 diabetes develops most often in middle-aged and older people who are also OVERWEIGHT or OBESE. The disease, once rare in youth, is becoming more common in OVERWEIGHT and OBESE children and adolescents. Scientists think genetic susceptibility and environmental factors are the most likely triggers of type 2 diabetes.

    Risk Factors for Type 2 Diabetes

    People who develop type 2 diabetes are more likely to have the following characteristics:

    age 45 or older
    parent or sibling with diabetes
    family background that is African American, Alaska Native, American Indian, Asian American, Hispanic/Latino, or Pacific Islander American
    history of giving birth to a baby weighing more than 9 pounds
    history of gestational diabetes
    high blood pressure—140/90 or above—or being treated for high blood pressure
    high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or good, cholesterol below 35 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL), or a triglyceride level above 250 mg/dL
    polycystic ovary syndrome, also called PCOS
    prediabetes—an A1C level of 5.7 to 6.4 percent; a fasting plasma glucose test result of 100–125 mg/dL, called impaired fasting glucose; or a 2-hour oral glucose tolerance test result of 140–199, called impaired glucose tolerance
    acanthosis nigricans, a condition associated with insulin resistance, characterized by a dark, velvety rash around the neck or armpits
    history of CVD

  8. Vasco Stevenson June 15, 2015 at 6:21 pm

    Having been diagnosed with diabetes about 12 years ago and having cured myself. Yes CURED, to the amazement of my GP I can empathize with anyone who has type 2 diabetes. Although the ramifications are serious if left untreated curing diabetes by diet and lifestyle is not as difficult as mainstream medicine would have us believe. I have been making health presentations for the last 10 years and many attendees have followed my suggestions and call me back to confirm that they are now free of diabetes. The first hurdle to overcome is the mindset that you have to take medication. Once that changes and you are willing to change your diet and lifestyle the rest is quite easy.


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