Diabetes...Why Africa Should be Alarmed

Let me start off with some statistics

By the year 2030 the International Diabetes Federation predicts that 7.7% (438 million people) in the 20–79 age group will have type 2 diabetes. And the the largest increase is projected to occur in developing countries, mainly in Asia and Africa, and may represent as much as 70% of all cases.

This is a very significant statistic as we all know, the health system in Africa is developing slowly and falls well behind the "developed" world in as far as access to quality health care. There for most of these cases of diabetes in africa will go undiagnosed, untreated, thus leading to premature death!

But what is causing this increased risk and development of the disease in Africa???

Some might wrongfully assume that this is all happening because with the advent of Mr. Biggs and Co...Africans are adopting a more westernized diet...But this really isn't the case if one takes a deeper look at the situation

Well first the world health organization (WHO) says  diabetes main risk factors include obesity, rapid urbanization, physical inactivity, ageing, nutrition transitions, and socioeconomic changes.

But to categorize this to see what is really going on:
Rapid urbanization and socioeconomic changes are leading to nutrition transition, physical inactivity, which is increasing the rate of obesity, thus increasing the rate of individuals with diabetes....as obesity significantly increases your risk for developing the disease.

Let me break this down for you....
Less people are doing more agricultural work and hard labour as before this transcends to less total daily physical activity. The diet is still largely the same. And by largely i mean large portion sizes with primarily complex carbohydrates, little fat, and little protein. Though the fat and protein intakes of Nigerians have increased, the diet is still mainly carbohydrate based...rice, corn, cassava, yam, plantain, bread, fruits, vegetables. But if you check out my Fit Tips page you will see there is nothing wrong with consuming a lot of complex carbohydrates. We need carbohydrates for energy. And the key word here is energy.

Many nigerians have dramatically decrease there energy output, though I would argue most move around a lot more than the average American, but continue to eat the same big portion sizes that was once needed for all the hard labour and agricultural work villagers had to do. So essentially if people curtailed the portion sizes, we would see a decrease in the incidence of diabetes. Really the foods Nigerians and other west Africans eat are quite healthy.

So the other point the WHO mentioned was nutritional transition. More and more people are eating rice than before, rice was once saved for special occasions and events, but now it is an everyday commodity. Rice, though a healthy, low fat, nutritious food when eaten in moderation, when eaten in excess can spike insulin levels quite rapidly and over time and continual prolonged insulin spikes will lead to the development of diabetes. If you are like myself and love rice, try and make the transition to brown rice. I know it will take some getting used to, but it has more fiber and more nutrients than its white counter part and thus will take longer to digest and not cause the same insulin spike as white rice. Another food item to look at is pounded yam flour prepackaged and store bought. Like white rice it will cause insulin spikes...but i will have a whole post alone concerning yams and yam flour, so be on the look out for that.

Check out part 1 for a brief breakdown of diabetes
Check out part 3 to see other reasons for the increase in diabetes by way of the increase of obesity.

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  2. I am in the health/fitness field and see many people start out a routine with the goal of losing weight and after months of focusing on the scale they quit in disappointment. This study is one I will point to to reassure them that their efforts are not in vain. Thanks! health

  3. I have seen many people quitting in between, sometimes I also makes my mind to quit from the workouts. But I have a fitness trainer which always keeps me motivating and posts like these, I am thankful to you all. I am also having Diabetes and I keep myself fit and moving though my foot swell sometimes but I keep on going. In case like this I would suggest to search your own type of course and get a personal trainer if possible.
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