People registering for the challenge Image Credit: Supplied

Ras Al Khaimah: More than 3,000 people have registered for a three-month community initiative that aims to help diabetics reduce the biomarkers of the disease, especially HbA1c levels and BMI, through lifestyle changes.

The RAK Diabetes Challenge 2022 launched by RAK Hospital in association with the Ministry of Health and Prevention also conducted its first webinar titled ‘Winning against Diabetes’ where participants learnt about the disease, its symptoms, prevention and management strategies.

Dr Raza Siddiqui, Executive Director, RAK Hospital, said: “Diabetes is increasing worldwide while the MENA region shows some alarming numbers as we expect a huge jump of 87 per cent in the diabetic population from 73 million in 2021 to 136 million in 2045 as per the International Diabetes Federation 2021 data. Therefore, a challenge like this was much needed to create greater awareness about the disease and help prevent the complications of diabetes.”

Most common, but reversible

Type 2 diabetes is the most common with 90 per cent of patients suffering from the condition. “However, the good news is, it’s also the type where lifestyle intervention can actually reverse the disease in many cases.”

Siddiqui added: “People from all across UAE have come forward and enrolled for the challenge and for the next three months, the RAK Hospital physicians, trainers and subject experts will be consistently guiding the contestants via weekly webinars, daily health tips and educative sessions, supporting them in implementing healthy lifestyle changes and management programs suitable for their individual requirements.”

People with diabetes have an increased risk of strokes, heart attacks, high blood pressure, kidney disease and blindness. If you are obese, you can reduce your risk of developing diabetes by eating a low-fat, low-sugar diet and exercising regularly. If you can lose five to 10 percent of your body weight, you will lower your risk of developing diabetes by 58 per cent.

Weekly webinars

During the first weekly ‘Diabeat’ webinar scheduled to be held every Friday until the end of the challenge, Dr Humam Sami Ali, consultant Internal Medicine and head of Department at RAK Hospital, spoke about various aspects of diabetes, explaining and educating the participants about the disease and guiding them on the tools and strategies for prevention and effective management.

Speaking about testing for prediabetes and/or type 2 diabetes in asymptomatic people, he advised that it should be considered in adults of any age who are overweight or obese and have one or more additional risk factors for diabetes. For all people, testing should begin at the age of 45 years and if tests are normal, repeat testing carried out at a minimum of three-year intervals is reasonable.

Controlling ‘ABC’

“People with diabetes are two to three times more likely to have a heart attack, stroke, or kidney disease. Therefore, the most important thing for them is to control their ‘ABC’; where A stand for HbA1c, B for Blood pressure and C for Cholesterol. If you have diabetes, controlling your blood pressure is just as important as controlling your blood glucose. High blood pressure puts you at risk for kidney disease, heart attack and stroke. Cholesterol is a substance found in the blood. LDL or ‘bad’ cholesterol can build up and clog your blood vessels”, added Dr Ali.

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High prevalence

“As against the 10 per cent average of diabetics globally, the UAE figure is slightly higher at 11 per cent. Diabetes is a malady related to affluence. The causes of diabetes, besides, endocrine dysfunction, includes family history, a rich overabundant carbohydrate diet, overweight and obesity, a sedentary and physically inactive life, and other such lifestyle factors.”

The RAK Diabetes Challenge aims to not only reduce the blood sugar in participants but also in helping participants to lose excess body fat and weight, by modifying their lifestyles, through eating healthy low calorie diets and undertaking moderate exercise and physical activity daily, said Professor Adrian Kennedy, chief wellness officer, Arabian Wellness and Lifestyle Management, the wellness arm of RAK Hospital.

The consequences of long-term diabetes and untreated diabetes range from circulatory problems, eye problems, nerve problems, kidney problems and also heart problems. Symptoms of diabetes include thirst, unexplained weight loss, and fatigue. Besides strict medical adherence, lifestyle changes including daily exercise, weight loss, and modification of diet are recommended by Dr Ali. Further details about the challenge and access the webinar is available via the website of RAK Diabetes Challenge.