World Diabetes Day, commemorated on November 14 each year raises awareness on the disease that affects more than 340 million people worldwide. In 2012 an estimated 1.5 million deaths were attributed to diabetes, with 80% of deaths occurring in low-and middle-income countries (WHO). “An employee with a chronic illness such as diabetes can lose 3-4 months of work a year resulting in potential losses of 20-30% of their annual household income” (www.SAfAIDS.net). This also means reduced productivity in the workplace and additional health costs for employers.
Diabetes is caused by genetic factors or lifestyle choices that impact on the body’s ability to produce insulin or its ability to breakdown sugars. Of the three types of diabetes, namely gestational diabetes, type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes, the latter is the most common accounting for 90-95% of all cases diagnosed (CDC). Type 2 diabetes develops over a long period of time and this is where workplace HIV and wellness programmes which provide screening can be useful in identifying employees at risk. Early screening and treatment helps to prevent complications associated with diabetes which include heart disease, stroke, blindness, amputations and kidney failure.
“Healthy Living and Diabetes” is the World Diabetes theme for 2014-2016. This year the focus is on the importance of a healthy breakfast in addressing some of the causes of diabetes. According to the International Diabetes Federation “eating a healthy breakfast decreases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. This is because skipping breakfast is associated with weight gain, one of the main risk factors of the disease.” A healthy diet consists of lean meat, fish, fruit, leafy vegetables, legumes, nuts, whole grains and is low in sugar, salts and fat. This is good advice for all employees as positive changes in nutrition assist in keeping the immune system healthy, prevents disease and benefits those affected by other non-communicable and communicable diseases including HIV.
Read more on diabetes: