A new diabetes survey to be conducted next year will include expatriates alongside Qataris.
The last survey was conducted on Qatari population which established that the diabetes prevalence was about 17 percent.
Speaking on the sidelines of the second annual Arab Diabetes Medical Congress, Hamad Medical Corporation Chairman of the Department of Internal Medicine Dr Abdul-Badi Abou-Samra said,"Currently, we don't have the latest statistics on diabetes prevalence. We are going to conduct a survey next year. The prevalence now is thought to be between 18 and 20 percent.
There will be a step wise survey and we will involve Qataris and non-Qataris. The earlier survey was conducted only on Qataris." He said diabetes prevalence in the Gulf region is almost twice that of any other region in the world.
"Globally, diabetes prevalence rate is eight to nine percent. In Qatar and the Gulf region it is between 17 and 30 percent. It is not because people living in this region have a unique gene that makes them prone to diabetes," he said.
"The lifestyle has changed and physical activity has decreased a lot. People now depend on vehicles. The refrigerator is always full of different kinds of food and as a result people become obese."
He said obesity and overweight are the main risk factors of diabetes."Fighting obesity is the main goal to prevent diabetes."
Sedentary lifestyle, unhealthy eating habits and lack of physical activity are the main contributing factors for diabetes in the region.
He said spreading awareness about diabetes at the school level and educating parents and the community as a whole at mosques, malls and work place will go a long way in fighting diabetes.
"It requires role modelling by a leader to motivate the public to follow a healthy lifestyle. I think we will win in that sphere and we will be observing a decline in the prevalence of diabetes in Qatar in 20 to 30 years."
Abou-Samra noted that genes play a role in diabetes but a study has shown that leading a healthy lifestyle can reverse the gene risk."If someone has a genetic risk but has a healthy lifestyle, the risk is reduced by almost 50 percent."
The three-day Arab Diabetes Medical Congress has attracted about 470 experts.
Abou-Samra said it was aimed at exchanging experience, learning disease management and diagnosis. "This knowledge will help in promoting better diagnosis, prevention and better management of diabetes."
Qatar Diabetes Association Executive Director Abdulla al Hamaq said diabetes is one of the most common chronic diseases across the world.
"Recent figures from the seventh edition of the International Diabetes Federation's (IDF) Diabetes Atlas indicate that the number of people living with diabetes around the world is expected to rise from 415 million in 2015 to 642 million by 2040.
Hamaq said,"A sedentary lifestyle, unhealthy eating habits and low levels of awareness are among contributors to the rapid incidence of type 2 diabetes in Middle East and North Africa.
"It is gratifying to note that the agenda of the conference covers a wide range of very interesting topics relating to Diabetes. It is an opportune time to join an action-oriented effort to tackle and solve the problems of diabetes and improve the knowledge about diabetes, its management and prevention by sharing the latest, up-to-date information. We hope that this important conference will help increase awareness of diabetes as a major health crisis."
Source Credit: Qatar Tribune