Abu Dhabi: More than 10,000 people are preparing themselves for the third annual diabetes walkathon which aims to highlight the risks of the disease and check its incidence across the UAE.

With the UAE second on the list of countries with the highest prevalence of diabetes across the world (19.5 per cent of the population is affected, with the figure expected to rise to 21.9 per cent by 2025), the WALK UAE 2009 is part of an award-winning public health awareness campaign known as Diabetes Knowledge Action which is organised by the Imperial College London Diabetes Centre (ICLDC).

The event, which will take place for the first time at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi's Yas Island on November 20, is also part of events to mark World Diabetes Day, which falls on November 14 and marks the global awareness campaign of the International Diabetes Federation and United Nations.

Attendant risks

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), more than 180 million people worldwide have diabetes and this number is likely to double by 2030. More than 50 per cent of the people living with diabetes are unaware of their condition and, in some countries, this figure is as high as 80 per cent.

It is also estimated by a report published by the ICLDC, that 25 per cent of the UAE's population is living with diabetes, which raises the risk of cardiovascular diseases and heart strokes six times. A sedentary lifestyle and unhealthy eating habits are cited as the main causes of the increasing prevalence of type-two diabetes in the UAE.

Type-two is traditionally known as adult-onset diabetes but in recent years diabetes has reached epidemic levels worldwide, with children as young as seven years being afflicted.

"Walking 30 minutes a day is proven to help combat the onset of diabetes, and indeed manages the disease. It's a common misconception to think that reasonable body weight equates to good health. The truth is that visceral fat can build around the liver, even in people who are visibly thin. Visceral fat can promote the onset of type-two diabetes," said Dr Maha Taysir Barakat, medical and research director and consultant endocrinologist, ICLDC.

Regular exercise can lower the risk of developing diabetes by 58 per cent, said Dr Barakat, adding that 10,000 participants for the walkathon would mark a 25 per cent increase in participation on last year's event.

Walkathon: Because awareness goes a long way

  • What: Diabetes awareness walkathon
  • When: Friday November 20
  • Where: Yas Marina Circuit, Yas Island