Monday, December 12, 2011

The Curse of Diabetes

Dear Laila kindly provided a translation of my Al Akhbar article

The Curse of Diabetes
The world population of diabetes sufferers has exceeded 350 million, making it a pandemic, particularly in poor countries. It is an epidemic that kills over 3 million people a year. The reason behind the increase in the number of diabetics in the last three decades is the change in nutrition habits and the rise of “fast food,” rich in saturated fats and sugar. A number of researchers have associated the rapid spread of the disease in poor areas with the abandonment of traditional foods and the adoption of western nutrition habits which now pervade the globe.
In this context, similar studies carried out in Lebanon maintain that the percentage of diabetes sufferers exceeds those of the rest of the world (almost double), reaching 13-14% in adults. Lebanon suffers from a severe shortage of guidelines and early warning systems for dealing with chronic diseases such as diabetes. Moreover, the privatization of the health sector makes effective treatment the preserve of the rich. The high cost of living is also a huge obstacle to those who wish to adopt a special diet to deal with diabetics.
It must be said that the state and some charities do offer treatment and drugs to a number of those afflicted. But it is logical to expect those in charge to put a limit to the spread of diabetes through preventative approaches such as diet. 
Traditional food in our countries should be the starting point. The cuisine of the Levant is rich with dishes where vegetables and fiber are the main ingredients. We should also get rid of the culture of carbonated drinks which are high in sugar content. This is a move that looks possible until we hit several obstacles, such as the interests of the investors in the carbonated drinks industry, along with the merchants and those who benefit from importing cheap food of poor quality. 
The deterioration of the traditional agriculture sector also contributes to the worsening problem. In the end, we cannot treat the problem of diabetes as a health issue without looking at its political dimensions. 

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