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Javier Basterra Gortari and Maira Bes Restrollo, Endocrinology Specialist of the Navarra Health Service and Professor of Preventive Medicine and Occupational Health.

90% of diabetes subject 2 is preventable.


Wed, 18 Nov 2015 12:39:00 +0000 Published in Navarra Newspaper


Over the past few decades, the world's population has changed its lifestyles. These changes have caused diabetes to become one of the most serious public health problems. In fact, it is estimated that 387 million people suffer from diabetes worldwide. Moreover, this figure may increase to 592 million by 2035, with the corresponding repercussions, since this disease is the leading cause of blindness, kidney failure and non-traumatic lower limb amputations, while significantly increasing the risk of suffering a myocardial infarction or stroke.

The main types of diabetes are subject 1 and subject 2. subject 1 is the result of an autoimmune disorder that destroys the insulin-producing beta cells of the pancreas. It tends to affect mostly children and young adults. subject 2 is much more common, and has increased alarmingly in recent years. It is a progressive disorder that begins with an increase in insulin resistance due to various factors, most notably obesity. The pancreas compensates for this resistance by secreting more insulin. Gradually, however, a secretory deficit occurs, leading to the onset of diabetes subject 2. Unlike diabetes subject 1, cases of subject 2 increase progressively with age.

Obesity is the main risk factor for developing diabetes subject 2. There is consistent evidence that overweight and obesity significantly increase the risk of developing this pathology. Therefore, one of the main ways of prevention consists of correcting excess weight. Another important risk factor is a sedentary lifestyle. Physical exercise -and avoiding sedentary habits such as watching television- financial aid to prevent the development of this disease.

The per diem expenses is another point core topic in prevention. First of all, it is essential to avoid excessive food consumption. We are used to overly generous portions or snacking between meals, which will lead to weight gain in the long term deadline . On the other hand, the subject of food is also very important. The Mediterranean per diem expenses has been shown to reduce the risk of diabetes, as published in several programs of study.

This is the case of the essay PREDIMED or the project SUN -within the high school de research Sanitaria de Navarra (IDISNA) and CIBERobn-, in which many volunteers from Navarra participate and whom we would like to thank for their partnership. These programs of study have shown that a Mediterranean per diem expenses rich in extra virgin olive oil is able to reduce the risk of developing diabetes by 40%. This patron saint is characterized by the use of olive oil as the main fat source ; by a high consumption of fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, legumes and fish; and by a moderate intake of alcohol and red meat. In general, it is best to resort to unprocessed, fresh, local and seasonal foods. On the other hand, foods rich in trans fats -such as industrial pastries-, or rapidly absorbed sugars -such as sugary drinks- have been associated with an increased risk of diabetes.

Likewise, various programs of study have estimated the benefit of following several healthy habits. For example, a study developed among American nurses evaluated the preventive potential of a set of 5 options: normal weight, healthy per diem expenses , physical activity at least average hour per day, not smoking and moderate alcohol consumption. It was observed that by following these 5 measures, about 90% of diabetes cases could be prevented.

Diabetes subject 2 is, therefore, a very preventable disease. And that is very good news. If we recover healthy lifestyle habits we will be able to prevent pathologies such as diabetes, and thus improve the life expectancy and quality of life of the population.

All levels of society should be strongly involved in this task, convinced that healthy habits should be the usual habits, easy to follow and those that manage to create a trend in our environment. In this goal work projects as laudable as the program of distribution of fruits and vegetables to the children of Education infantile in the schools, promoted by the Government of Navarre with the partnership of the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Environment and the European Union. However, looking at the current figures on chronic diseases, including diabetes, it seems that insufficient attention is still being paid to the full potential of good prevention through the reduction of obesity and the development of healthy lifestyle habits.