By Carlena Knight
On the observation of World Diabetes Day yesterday, a local medical practitioner urged residents to get regular screenings for the illness and become more active.
During an interview on state media, Specialist in Family Medicine and Diabetes Dr Monica Osborne-Stevens highlighted the fact that obesity is a leading risk factor for developing diabetes.
She explained that concerns have been raised in recent months due to the increasing number of obesity cases in the country, especially in children.
“It’s very important that we get checked. Oftentimes we are too busy as a people, or say ‘oh I am healthy, there’s no need for me to go to the doctor’, but a lot of things as we get older are going on inside the body and this is why screening is important,” she said.
“Screening means that a healthy person is getting checked for this particular disease. It doesn’t mean that they have any symptoms at all and so we must even screen for diabetes.
“Before they thought that when you are over 40 you screen for diabetes, but now at age 35 or if you are obese, you must be screened. So, now, a lot of my patients — even in their 20s and high teens — I am screening them for diabetes because they are overweight or obese,” Dr Osborne-Stevens explained.
She said that persons who have a family history of the disease should also get screened as they are at a higher risk of getting diabetes.
For those who are already diabetic, she encouraged them to take their treatment seriously by changing and sticking to their diet, exercising and attending their scheduled doctor’s appointments.
Dr Osborne-Stevens said persons must stick to their medication regimen as well.
“Treatment starts with lifestyle changes. We have to start watching our diet; take out all the sugary beverages and the carbohydrates.
“Don’t you think it’s funny, especially now that we know so much about health, we go to a function and the plate has macaroni pie, potato salad, all of these things in one sitting, that is what is increasing our risks? So, if we are taking those out of our diet, we are starting to treat diabetes and also prevent diabetes.
“Exercise as well. As you increase the exercise, it forces the glucose into the cell, so it means that you are going to have less glucose floating around in the blood causing damage. We must exercise. We must eat right and we must go to the doctor and have our checks done,” she added.
Diabetes is a chronic disease that occurs either when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin or when the body cannot effectively use the insulin it produces.
According to the Pan American Health Organization, the number of cases of diabetes in the Americas has tripled during the last 30 years.
Of that alarming rate, about 13 percent of the population in Antigua and Barbuda has diabetes.