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Diabetes is a growing problem in UAE - experts

About 19.5 per cent of the UAE's population is now living with diabetes according to statistics released by the Imperial College London Diabetes Centre at the Arab Health Congress show.

Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: About 19.5 per cent of the UAE's population is now living with diabetes according to statistics released by the Imperial College London Diabetes Centre at the Arab Health Congress show.

Figures show that 40 per cent of residents over 60 have diabetes and the number is expected to increase over the coming years; diabetes mellitus constitutes 75 per cent of deaths among UAE nationals and 31 per cent among non-nationals.

"Diabetes is currently the fastest growing debilitating disease in the world. In the UAE it is estimated that one out of five people aged 20 to 79 lives with this disease, while a similar percentage of the population is at risk of developing it. This year, the UAE ranked 2nd highest worldwide for diabetes prevalence," said Dr Maha Taysir Barakat, consultant endocrinologist, Medical and Research Director, Imperial College London Diabetes Centre (ICLDC).

In the Gulf region, which has a population of approximately 33 million there are more than 3.5 million diabetes sufferers. A sedentary lifestyle and bad eating habits have been blamed for the increasing prevalence of diabetes in the UAE.

Children as young as ten are being diagnosed with the disease, again due to obesity, coupled with physical inactivity, an unhealthy diet and hypertension.

There are very few health professionals qualified to deal with diabetes in the region, and there is a great and urgent need not only for "diabetologists" but also diabetic educators, nutritionists and other medical practitioners to help complications arising out of diabetes.

Symptoms: Onset can be sudden

The onset of type 1 diabetes is often sudden and dramatic and can include symptoms such as:

  • Abnormal thirst and a dry mouth
  • Frequent urination
  • Extreme tiredness/lack of energy
  • Constant hunger
  • Sudden weight loss
  • Slow-healing wounds
  • Recurrent infections
  • Blurred vision
DIABETES CASES
Country

Prevalence in %

2007
Estimated in 2025
Nauru
30.7
32.3
UAE
19.5
21.9
Saudi Arabia
16.7
18.4
Bahrain
15.2
17
Kuwait
14.4
16.4
Oman
13.1
14.7
Tonga
12.9
15.2
Mauritius
11.1
13.4
Egypt
11
13.4
Mexico
10.6
12.4
Age Group: 20-79 in 2007
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