This month marks the fifth year since the Department of Health declared war on diabetes. During the war, we should be aware that it cannot be won without winning the Singapore obesity and smoking battles.
Almost four in ten Singaporeans are overweight or obese, which is a major contributor to the prevalence of diabetes in Singapore. Obesity is thought to account for 80 to 85 percent of the risk of type 2 diabetes.
The fight against the bulge should be a priority in the war on diabetes. Vague messages such as promoting a healthy lifestyle or eating less white rice are missing in the forest for the trees.
Smoking, another major contributor to diabetes, is noticeably missing from public health news. According to the US Food and Drug Administration, smokers are at higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes than non-smokers because smoking leads to insulin resistance.
Not only is smoking strongly linked to diabetes, but second-hand smoking also significantly increases the risk of diabetes.
Reluctance in our public health education about the relationship between tobacco smoke and diabetes weakens our efforts to combat diabetes.
In addition, there is currently no protection against second-hand smoke in residential areas.
The next phase in the war on diabetes should focus on these key factors in risk of developing diabetes.
Lim Teck Koon