Thursday, 10 July 2014

Fight diabetes: A recipe for success

Dr Yeoh Boon Hock and Prof Dr Nor Azmi Kamaruddin at the launch of the MSD Ramadan Campaign 2014 – Smart Info Tools .

Dr Yeoh Boon Hock and Prof Dr Nor Azmi Kamaruddin at the launch of the MSD Ramadan Campaign 2014 – Smart Info Tools .

MSD introduces diabetes-friendly recipes and mobile apps for fasting month.

Fasting poses significant health risks for Muslims with diabetes.

Research has shown that episodes of severe hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar) in people with type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) are significantly higher during Ramadan than other months.

According to a 2009 demographic study, Islam has 1.57bil adherents, making up 23% of the world population of 6.8bil, and is growing by 3% per year.

Fasting during Ramadan is a duty for all healthy adult Muslims. The high global prevalence of type 2 diabetes – 6.6% among adults age 20-79 years, coupled with the results of the population-based Epidemiology of Diabetes and Ramadan 1422/2001 (EPIDIAR) study (which showed that among 12,243 people with diabetes from 13 Islamic countries, 43% of patients with type 1 diabetes and 79% of patients with type 2 diabetes fast during Ramadan), lead to the estimate that worldwide, more than 50 million people with diabetes fast during Ramadan.

The American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommendations for management of diabetes states that blood sugar levels should be monitored frequently in people with T2DM during Ramadan to reduce the risk of developing hypoglycaemia.

Hypoglycaemia may be a problem faced by diabetics who fast. It occurs when the level of glucose in the blood drops too low for the body’s needs.

As part of its ongoing commitment to support Muslim diabetics who fast, healthcare company MSD recently launched a suite of smart info tools that includes creative diabetes-friendly recipes, a dedicated website of MSD’s Ramadan campaign materials, the latest Apple mobile app and “Facts About Fasting during Ramadan” info kit to help T2DM patients better manage their blood sugar levels.

“MSD would like to empower diabetics to better manage their disease, especially for those who fast during Ramadan. Given that a balanced diet is key to effective diabetes management, MSD has commissioned a world-leading dietician to create diabetes-friendly recipes to encourage healthier eating,” said Dr Yeoh Boon Hock, medical director for MSD in Malaysia during the media launch ceremony.

“In addition to healthy recipes, MSD has also updated the ‘Ramadan, Diabetes and Me’ mobile app for Apple devices and ‘Facts about Fasting during Ramadan’ info kit booklet for 2014.

“And to provide patients and healthcare professionals around the world with easier access to all of our Ramadan campaign materials, a dedicated website ( has also been activated.

“We hope that these smart info tools will enhance knowledge and provide real-time support for diabetics,” added Dr Yeoh.

The diabetes-friendly recipes have been exclusively crafted by food nutritionist and dietician Sandra Mikhail from Australia, ensuring every dish is well-balanced. The recipes will help patients with T2DM better control their sugar levels when breaking fast by using the right ingredients with appropriate sugar content. The contemporary Asian, Western and Middle-East recipes are nutritious, easy to prepare and family friendly.

Diabetic patients who fast will abstain from taking food, drinks and oral medication from pre-dawn to sunset, and this could eventually result in hypoglycaemia as their blood sugar level declines.

“For people with T2DM, lower food intake, coupled with exercise, along with certain diabetes medications, are well-known risk factors for hypoglycemia. If left untreated, it can lead to serious medical problems including loss of consciousness, convulsions and seizures, which require emergency treatment,” said senior consultant endocrinologist Prof Dr Nor Azmi Kamaruddin at the launch event.

The “Ramadan, Diabetes and Me” mobile app features important Ramadan information, such as sunrise and sunset, as well as prayer times that are customised according to the user’s location, while a built-in compass helps to determine prayer direction.

The application also comes with a blood sugar tracker that allows easy reporting of glucose levels to a healthcare practitioner. It is available for download via the Malaysian App Store for free.

“The Facts about Fasting during Ramadan” information kit offers key facts and tips about fasting. The contents are based on the 2010 American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommendations for management of diabetes during Ramadan and the 2012 South Asian Guidelines for management of endocrine disorders in Ramadan.

The kit comprises a calendar to provide an easy point of reference for managing daily eating and medication timing.

In order to manage the disease effectively, it is crucial for patients to adhere to treatment plan as advised by the physician.

“Technology has a great impact on us and our mobile phones and devices have become an integral part of our daily lives. We hope our Muslim diabetic friends will take advantage of these tools as well as the recently developed diabetes-friendly recipes and website,” concluded Dr Yeoh.


1. Aravind SR, Al Tayeb K, Ismail SB, Shehadeh N, Kaddaha G, Liu R, Balshaw R, Lesnikova N, Heisel O, Girman CJ, Musser BJ, Davies MJ, Katzeff HL, Engel SS, Radican L; 2009 Ramadan Study Group. (2011) Hypoglycaemia in sulphonylurea-treated subjects with type 2 diabetes undergoing Ramadan fasting: a five-country observational study.

2. Al Arouj M, Assaad-Khalil S, Buse J, Fadhil I, Fahmy M, Hafez S, Hassanein M, Ibrahim. M, Kendall D, Kishawi S, Al-Madini A, Nakhi A, Tayeb K, Thomas A, Recommendations for management of diabetes during Ramadan: update 2010. Diabetes Care (2010).

3. Mayo Clinic. Diabetic Hypoglycemia. Available at: [Accessed 18 April 2014]

Tags / Keywords: msd , diabetes friendly recipes


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