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Published: Sunday November 10, 2013 MYT 9:30:00 AM
Updated: Sunday November 10, 2013 MYT 9:56:58 AM

10 hard facts about diabetes

PETALING JAYA: We all know of someone who is diagnosed with diabetes. In a 2011 National Health and Morbidity Survey, it was estimated that 2.6 million Malaysians are affected by the disease.

Diabetes is one of the most common diseases in the world, and sadly, there is no cure for this chronic and often deadly disease. In conjunction with World Diabetes Day, we explore 10 hard facts about diabetes.

1  Eating too much sugar does not cause diabetes

Eating too much sugar is unlikely to cause diabetes. A person develops diabetes due to a number of factors, such as:

Type 1 diabetes occurs when the pancreas completely stops making any insulin (a hormone that helps the body process glucose in foods for energy). Scientists suspect environmental factors, viruses or genetics playing a role in a person developing type 1 diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes is caused when the body doesn’t produce sufficient insulin and/or is unable to use insulin properly. This form of diabetes usually happens in people over 40 years of age, overweight, and has a history of diabetes in their family.

2 You cannot catch diabetes from someone else

You cannot catch diabetes from someone else like a cold or flu; it is not an infectious or contagious disease. Although scientists are not entirely sure what causes diabetes, there appears to be a genetic link with the disorder. This means that if diabetes runs in your family, you may have a higher chance of getting the disease.

3 Fat people do not always develop diabetes

There are diabetics who are never overweight

Being overweight or obese does increase the risk of developing but it does not mean that an obese person will definitely become diabetic. And there are still many diabetics who were never overweight.

4 Diabetes can kill you

Diabetes is one of the top causes of death in Malaysia. A 2008 survey on the causes of deaths in Malaysia ranked diabetes fifth place in the top 10 causes of death in Malaysia, this statistic ranks diabetes higher than strokes and hypertension.

5  Not only old people get diabetes

There is a growing number of children and teenagers who are developing type 2 diabetes. Experts suspect that this trend is linked to the increase in childhood obesity rates, poor diet, and lack of exercise.

6 Children cannot outgrow diabetes

There is no cure for diebetes until one is found

Nearly all children who are diagnosed with diabetes have type 1, which is when the pancreas completely stops making any insulin. This deficiency is permanent and the ability for the body to produce insulin will never come back. Hence, children with type 1 diabetes will need to take insulin for the rest of their lives until a cure is found.

7  People with diabetes don’t need to eat special diabetic foods

Diabetics are recommended to follow a healthy diet, but it’s pretty much the same diet plan like anybody else. That means having a meal plan that consists of whole-grain foods, lean protein, vegetables, and fruit. A diet low in fat and moderate in both salt and sugar is also suggested. These so-called diabetic foods offer no special benefit, so it is best to give a pass on this rather costly label.

8 Diabetics can eat sweets or desserts

Being diabetic doesn’t mean that you have to completely cut out sweet things from your diet. As long as sweets and desserts are eaten in moderation and part of a healthy meal plan, diabetics can still enjoy their sweet treats. Being diabetic doesn’t mean that you have to completely cut out sweet things from your diet. As long as sweets and desserts are eaten in moderation and part of a healthy meal plan, diabetics can still enjoy their sweet treats from time to time. Diabetics should still cut down on sugar intake, but the key is to have a very small portion of sweet foods and save them for special occasions.

9 Taking insulin doesn’t mean that your diabetes is more severe

Insulin injection should not hurt with good technique

Taking insulin does not mean that your diabetes is more severe or that you have failed, rather, it actually helps you to manage your diabetes better which will help you lower your risk of potential complications. Diabetes change over time and people who start out with oral medication at first will most probably move on to insulin injections to provide better diabetes control.

10 Injecting insulin is not painful

Taking insulin injections should not hurt at all with practising good injection technique. Most insulin pen needles are also short and thin which help to minimise discomfort.

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