As the world marks World Diabetes Day, Health Minister Dr. Duane Sands encouraged Bahamians to engage in healthier eating habits to break what appears to be a generational stronghold on families nationwide.
“While we talk about it a lot, many people are still not claiming it. Every single day we watch the impact of diabetes based on the choices that we have made,” Dr. Sands said.
“As we recognize World Diabetes Day, we need to take a serious note of the mess that we are in; understand and be sympathetic and empathetic with those who are suffering from diabetes but to recognize that we all need to take a serious look in the mirror and decide how we are going to eat differently and how we will exercise more.”
The theme for this year’s World Diabetes Day is “The Family and Diabetes.”
According to information released by the International Diabetes Foundation (IDF) over 425 million people are currently living with diabetes.
When that number is broken down, information gathered within the last five years suggest that upwards of 130, 000 Bahamians are counted within that figure.
“The Bahamas, unfortunately, suffers from an incredible scourge of diabetes and if we look at data from 2012 STEP data and we extrapolate to where we are; we are number one in diabetes. That means that 130, 000 to 150, 000 Bahamians suffer from diabetes. That means amputated legs, blindness, heart disease and kidney failure,” he stated.
“We, as a nation, must really take this thing seriously and make the necessary changes to avoid an increase in the amount of cases we are seeing.”
Dr. Sands said the government has begun the process of trying to assist Bahamians with making healthier food choices.
He touted the change in breadbasket items as the first step.
“I believe that changes to the breadbasket has made significant inroads in combatting diabetes and other ailments and I believe that it will continue to do so when we make even further changes by the turn of the year,” he said.
“We’ve talked about adding fruits and vegetables, healthy cereals, starches, rice, etc. We have committed to a national fact-finding and discussion campaign and we have continued to do that.”