Does sugar cause diabetes?

Cutting down on sugar does not prevent diabetes.

FOR years, one of the most notable common myths surrounding diabetes is that the consumption of sugar causes the condition.

That is far from the truth.

In the case of Type 1 diabetes, it is an autoimmune condition that damages the cells in the pancreas, which produces insulin, and thus, resulting in severe insulin deficiency.

Meanwhile, Type 2 diabetes can occur due to insulin resistance, a state where the body does not respond to insulin or experience insulin deficiency. This condition is caused by both environmental and genetic factor for example, if one of your family members has diabetes, it is high possibility you will inherit the genetic risk and may develop the condition later in life, especially when leading unhealthy lifestyle and high-calorie diets are involved.

Insulin is necessary to help our body maintain normal blood sugar levels or glucose, which is a type of sugar found in many carbohydrates.

Many people think that diabetes control requires only changes to their sugar intake but what they don’t know is that diabetes management goes beyond that to prevent future complications.

Taking a closer look at Malaysia, currently our country has one of the highest prevalence of diabetes in Asia, with nearly one in five Malaysians1 living with the condition and accounting for almost 3.9 million1 individuals.

On top of that, people with diabetes have two to four times higher risk of developing heart complications2 and diabetes also contributes to 65% of end-stage kidney disease cases on dialysis in Malaysia.3

Realising there is a significant awareness gap about this issue, the Beyond Sugar campaign aims to separate the myths and misconceptions about diabetes and improve the understanding of Malaysians that diabetes goes beyond managing sugar consumption.

To raise awareness on the matter, a Malaysian Diabetes Index (MDI) survey, which is planned to run annually, will be conducted to study and simultaneously increase the level of awareness and understanding of diabetes and its complications in our country.

As a voluntary nationwide survey, MDI is part of a community project supported by AstraZeneca Malaysia and in collaboration with the Malaysian Endocrine and Metabolic Society (MEMS).

“We are proud to collaborate in the first nationwide diabetes awareness survey supported by AstraZeneca. This is a bold move towards understanding the nation better, in terms of how Malaysians view and think of diabetes, and we believe that we will be able to gain useful insights from the results of the survey. With that, we really hope that Malaysians would participate and be a part of the Malaysian Diabetes Index (MDI), ” says Malaysian Endocrine and Metabolic Society (MEMS) president Prof Dr Chan Siew Pheng.

The survey will take place over the span of four weeks until May 9 and is open to all Malaysian residents nationwide.

Take part in the survey today and join the new movement to improve our understanding of the condition.

Insights from the survey will enable researchers to identify the awareness gaps related to diabetes and help to design more impactful campaigns to address them in the future.

The results of the survey will be shared with the general public in June.

To participate in the survey, click here.


1 Institute for Public Health 2020. National Health and Morbidity Survey (NHMS) 2019: Non-communicable diseases, healthcare demand, and health literacy—Key Findings

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2 Betteridge, D., 2004. The interplay of cardiovascular risk factors in the metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes. European Heart Journal Supplements, 6, pp.G3-G7.

3 Wong HS, Goh BL (eds). 24th Report of the Malaysian Dialysis and Transplant Registry 2016, Kuala Lumpur 2018, ISSN 1675–8862.

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