Specialist concerned too many youth are being diagnosed with diabetes

There’s concern that not only has diabetes reached an epidemic state in Barbados, but that more and more young people are being diagnosed with the disease.

Speaking at a symposium held in honour of the late co-founder of the Barbados Diabetes Foundation and the Maria Holder Diabetes Centre for the Caribbean Dr Oscar Jordan, Dr Diane Brathwaite, who is a diabetologist, specializing in the treatment of the disease, acknowledged that one fifth of all adults in Barbados have been diagnosed with diabetes.

However, she warned that “the sad story and the worrying part of that is that nearly the same amount has undiagnosed diabetes” which she said places a “horrific load” on the island’s resources.

While explaining that the cost of health care for a diabetic was six times more per year than that for a non-diabetic, she warned that the cost should be multipled by ten for every complication.

“Barbados, like the rest of the world is in an epidemic. We have a diabetes epidemic,” she said.

But the news gets worse.

“We are seeing an increase in the incidence of Type 1 Diabetes [which is often passed on to children from parents, and which recent studies have also linked to obesity],” Brathwaite added.

Just recently, the Pan-American Health Organisation reported that Barbados had on average more obese people than the entire Caribbean and Latin America.

Brathwaite said in addition to those diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, there was also a rising number of young people with the Type Two strain of the disease, which is caused by lifestyle indulgences, such as physical inactivity, high body fat, or high body weight, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

“I see people with Type Two diabetes who are 17 and 18 years of age,” Brathwaite said, which “means that they have a much longer time that they have to take care of themselves to avoid complications”.

She also reported that since the Centre in Warrens opened to patients in April 2014, “what we noticed in our patients are a lot of complications.

“People are having a lot of visual impairment, a lot of blindness,” she reported, adding that “one third of the patients that we saw over the last three years had loss of sensation in their feet”.

The health care professional also pointed out that “30 per cent of the patients that we were seeing had impairment of the kidney function”. Therefore, she said, “if we could diagnose people earlier, maybe we can help them prevent complications”.

While stressing the need for a regular screening system, the diabetologist said the current level of podiatry care was inadequate.

She also emphasized the need for proper nutrition saying “people think only the things that are sweet will affect their blood sugar, but no.

“Everything that is a starch or carbohydrate that you put into your mouth is going to be converted into blood sugar,” she warned, adding that an understanding of what carries these starches and carbohydrates was needed.

4 Responses to Specialist concerned too many youth are being diagnosed with diabetes

  1. Hal Austin January 27, 2017 at 3:31 am


    It is lifestyle. Too many young people siting in front of televisions and computers and not exercising enough. They are eating too much fast food, too much sugar and sugary drinks.
    This is a task for the ministry of health and the chief medical officer. They must earn their salaries.
    This is the first generation which will see parents burying their children because of a decline in longevity. And the long-term cost to the tax man is frightening: diabetes, blindness, kidney problems, etc.

  2. Lee Thorogood RN January 27, 2017 at 8:36 am

    The rise in diabetes is multi factorial: increase in fast food, and portion sizes, reduced exercise, stress, lack of specialist healthcare staff trained in diabetes and lack of education about the long term effects of diabetes all have contributed.

    To tackle the challenge of diabetes the government, health providers, and health professionals need to develop a strategy to tackle each of the above. Engaging the public in the need in awareness raising of diabetes is crucial. Some out of the box thinking is require. Could a tax on food and drinks which contain excessive sugar help, this has worked in Mexico why not Barbados?

  3. Brewster January 27, 2017 at 7:14 pm

    Need to reduce those sweet fizzy drinks with excessive amounts of sugar in them. Display dosage in home made food goods. Education starts at home and in school with regard to good food guidance for the young. Increase of tax on these goods could be a start.

  4. Jennifer January 27, 2017 at 7:32 pm

    @Hal – Just to add onto what you have said. If you give some of our children green bananas, breadfruit, yams, cassava, vegs etc it would probably make them sick. Their diet is this gross. One of the biggest disease and cancer causers is…….. PORK, look it up. We have become the SOUSE CAPITAL OF THE WORLD and we like it this way. Meats which are RIDDLE IN HORMONES FED VIA FEED, VACCINE AND H20 for quick growth. I see many men and boys with what look like breast. Surely, males should not look like this. Another problem is the process foods such as HOT DOGS, BURGERS, NUGGETS, AND LUNCHEON MEAT all which are loaded in salt and fat and animal skin ground in. We are in a share state and the children too are running the dinner times dictate what they intend to eat.


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