Almost one in ten people in Malta suffer from diabetes, a worrying side effect of the country’s unhealthy lifestyle habits.
Figures revealed by Deputy Prime Minister Chris Fearne following a parliamentary question by Nationalist MP Claudette Buttigieg have now shed more light on the gravity of the situation. Especially considering that 457 people under the age of 35 in Malta have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.
1. Type 2 diabetes is no longer the disease of the elderly
It was widely believed that type 2 diabetes was a disease found exclusively in the elderly. But after 457 Maltese people were confirmed to be receiving treatment for the disease, it can be argued that it is time to get up and smell the coffee.
While genetics play a role, lifestyle has a bigger one. So much so, that Low-income countries boast the lowest rates of diabetes in the world.
The question now remains – what are young people with diabetes doing about it? And what support are they receiving besides access to medicines? Medications help. But at the core, they don’t deal with the root cause.
2. The situation is getting worse over time
In 2019, 31,709 people were diagnosed as diabetic in Malta. Now, three years later, the figure is 36,077. About 7% of the total population. However, 1,776 of them were type 1 diabetics.
Type 1 and type 2 diabetes affect the body in different ways. While type 1 diabetics usually suffer from the condition as a result of ‘self-immunity’, type 2 is often influenced by lifestyle factors such as diet and exercise, although it can would also be hereditary.
Of the registered diabetics in Malta, 4,203 people (12%) had a degenerative condition to the point that they could not cope without having to take insulin injections.
Lifestyle interventions (such as diet and exercise) have been selected as the most effective way to end medication dependence. Don’t take it from us, take it from a scientific study.
3. Malta’s obesity crisis needs to be addressed
The biggest single risk factor that leads us on the road to being diagnosed with diabetes is obesity. Incidentally, Malta is currently suffering from a national obesity pandemic both in the adults u children.
If the risk of early death alone is not enough, the rise in obesity in Malta is costing the country € 100 million per year. Just because it is a risk factor for non-communicable diseases, such as diabetes.
Respondents to a Lovin Malta survey were keen to break up because Malta has made a name for itself as one of the fattest countries in Europe. The cost of nutrient-rich foods, eating habits that lead to frequent snacking, lack of time to prepare food, take-away foods, and no motivation to exercise on top.
But where do we go from here? What concrete actions are the authorities taking to fight disease?
4. Type 1 diabetics are being given more support
1,1776 people in Malta are currently diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. 152 more than in 2019. Type-1 is far less affected by a person’s lifestyle.
Of the total, 148 type 1 diabetics are under 16 years of age. And thankfully, 143 of them were given continuous glucose monitors, high-end tools for keeping an eye on blood sugar.
A state scheme for type 1 diabetics to have high blood sugar monitors was extended to people up to the age of 21 last April. This was great news as there are 109 young people between the ages of 17 and 21 who are entitled to these potentially life-saving monitors.
Can we reverse the damage?
Type 2 diabetes is a debilitating condition that can cut dramatically. It affects the best part of the western world, and Malta is currently in the making the third highest prevalence in Europe.
The disease has been a part of our world for the better part of the last few generations. Strangely enough, advice on how to overcome the disease still remains conflicting.
Proper dietary and lifestyle changes, however, are the most effective ways and means to ‘reverse’ the disease.
In January 2022, Lovin Malta met Simon Grech, a former diabetes sufferer who managed to lead this ‘reversal’ after making some small – but effective – changes to his daily routine. Changes in diet, movement and even fasting have made Simon a world of good, and so will anyone who is willing to make the change.
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