Call for swift action to tackle diabetes
The Island’s diabetes epidemic demands swift preventive action, according to Debbie Jones, director of the Bermuda Diabetic Association, who commended St George’s Preparatory School for phasing out sugary drinks, in her Hamilton Rotary Club address yesterday.
“Four years ago, 245 million people had diabetes,” Ms Jones said.
“Today it’s 350 million people and by 2030 it will be over 600 million people.
“We are shocked, we are upset, we are outraged — and yet the epidemic is only getting worse.”
The metabolic disease is being highlighted this month by the association, which Ms Jones founded.
She is also a former vice-president of the International Diabetes Foundation.
The disease’s link to diet, exercise and lifestyle means that diabetes is preventable, she said, but policies must be put in place to stem the crisis.
Ms Jones cited the British Government’s enforcement of healthy food in schools, where fizzy drinks and sweets have been removed from school meals and vending machines.
“St George’s Prep noticed that children were becoming overweight and that obesity rates were rising,” she said.
“Since they introduced the water-only policy, they have noticed the obesity rates dropping and that fewer children are overweight.
“Initially, they said parents were upset; however, the parents are now all on board and the children are actually reporting that they enjoy drinking water.”
Ms Jones told the audience that obesity in the UK is straining the healthcare system, as patients are unable to fit into MRI and CT scan machines, wheelchairs and hospital beds. She said Bermuda faced an epidemic.
“We are in it,” she said. “Unless we begin to take measures like the UK, and embrace what St George’s Prep is doing, we will face similar scenarios to that of the UK.”
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