Diabetes has been listed as third on the 10 leading causes of death among Taiwanese women for six consecutive years, the Diabetes Association of the Republic of China (ROC) Taiwan said yesterday, adding that female diabetics should help control their blood sugar levels by doing more exercise.
World Diabetes Day is on Tuesday next week and this year’s theme is “Women and Diabetes — Our Right to a Healthy Future,” the association and the Health Promotion Administration (HPA) said at a news conference.
There are about 200 million women with diabetes around the world and about 2.1 million die of the disease each year.
In Taiwan, the mortality rate was 41.9 per 100,000 women last year, accounting for approximately 5,000 deaths, the HPA said.
Association director-general Wayne Sheu (許惠恒) said the impact of diabetes on women is greater than on men, as it can reduce fertility, cause repeated urinary tract and genital infections, and increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.
About one out of every two women who suffered gestational dibetes mellitus (glucose intolerance during pregnancy) will develop type 2 diabetes in five to 10 years after pregnancy, he said.
Insulin resistance from diabetes can cause abnormal ovarian endocrine function and hormone secretion, which can lead to risks of obesity and infertility, Sheu said, adding that people with diabetes have a higher amount of glucose in their urine, which increases the risk of repeated urinary tract and genital infections.
Many serious complications — including diabetic retinopathy, diabetic nephropathy, diabetic foot and various cardiovascular diseases — can occur diabetics cannot keep their blood glucose levels under control, the HPA said.
A WHO report showed that 27 percent of diabetics did not do enough physical exercise, and about 70 percent of diabetics aged 40 years old or above have a body mass index (BMI) that is considered overweight.
In addition to adopting a healthy diet, taking medication according to prescription and monitoring blood glucose levels regularly, Sheu said about 70 to 80 percent of diabetics have better control over their blood glucose levels when they habitually exercise.
Doing moderate intensity exercises for at least 150 minutes per week can improve insulin sensitivity and stabilize blood glucose levels, HPA Chronic Disease Control Division official Chia Shu-li (賈淑麗) said.
She said diabetics should start increasing physical activity in their daily life by climbing the stairs rather than taking the elevator, getting off the bus one stop earlier and walking to their destination, or attending sports clubs in their community or workplace.
In related news, the Taiwan Epidemiology Association executive officer Hsu Kuang-hung (許光宏) on Tuesday said that drinking one or more sugary beverages (about 360cc per serving) per day can increase the risk of type 2 diabetes by 83 percent and cardiovascular disease by 29 percent.
Chiou Hung-yi (邱弘毅), a professor at Taipei Medical University’s College of Public Health and Nutrition and head of a health study commissioned by the association and Wang Jhan Yang Trust, said as many Taiwanese buy sugary beverages from bubble tea shops, but they should also be aware that hot and iced drinks that taste similarly sweet contain different sugar levels.
He said the perceived sweetness of fructose can change in different temperatures, and tastes less sweet at higher temperatures, so many stores add more sugar to warm and hot beverages to make them taste similar to the iced beverages.
Chiou said that people should drink more water and make drinks at home with a limited amount of sugar to reduce risks of developing chronic diseases, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
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