The number of adults worldwide with diabetes has more than doubled in three decades, jumping to an estimated 347 million, a new study says. Much of that increase is due to ageing populations—since diabetes typically hits in middle age—and population growth, but part of it has also been fuelled by rising obesity rates. With numbers climbing almost everywhere, experts say the disease is no longer limited to rich countries, but is now a global problem. Countries in which the numbers rose fastest include Cape Verde, Samoa, Saudi Arabia, Papua New Guinea and the US.
“Diabetes may well become the defining issue of global health for the next decade,” says Majid Ezzati, chair of global environmental health at the Imperial College London, one of the study authors. He noted the figures don’t reflect the generations of overweight children and young adults who have yet to reach middle age. That could create a massive burden on health systems. “We are not at the peak of this wave yet,” he says. “And unlike high blood pressure and cholesterol, we still don’t have great treatments for diabetes.”
The new study was paid for by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the World Health Organization and was published in the journal Lancet on Saturday. Doctors warn that the higher susceptibility of certain groups such as Asians, blacks and Hispanics to diabetes could dramatically boost future rates. “Other ethnicities don’t have to be as obese as people of European descent to get diabetes,” says Aaron Cypess, a staff physician at the Joslin Diabetes Center, Boston, US. He was not linked to the Lancet study. “It may be, for example, that Indians and Chinese store their fat in more dangerous places, like a potbelly,” he says, theorizing that that kind of abdominal fat can send out hormones to speed up diabetes.
TRAINERS NEED TO WALK THE TALK
Personal trainers can appear to be cut from the same well-trimmed cloth: They warm you up, they cool you down, they watch your form and advise you on balanced, sensible fitness goals. But when they’re not working, trainers, like the rest of us, pursue the fitness things they love, which can be anything from a pre-dawn run to a body-building medal.
At an Equinox fitness centre in New York City, US, Tiffany Boucher’s working day can involve helping young men with their biceps and older women with their balance. But before she hits the gym, this passionate runner hits the streets. “Some trainers really embody the lifestyle,” Boucher says. “It’s valuable for the consumer to ask appropriate questions when getting a trainer.”
Boucher, who blocks out about 10 hours of workout time per week, believes clients learn from a trainer’s example. “It’s about the importance of your workout in your day.”
At a Crunch gym in New York, Jenn Burke counts weekend warriors, marathoners and would-be triathletes among her clientele. She tailors her personal workout to the event she’s training for, and she’s usually training for something. “It’s just as important for a trainer to set goals as it is for them to understand their clients’ goals,” Burke says. “When trainers set their own goals they inspire their clients.”
Also wedded to the tried and true is Tom Spring, an exercise physiologist with the American College of Sports Medicine. Based in Detroit, Michigan, Spring works with high-risk populations, including seniors and the chronically ill.
“I don’t venture too far from my old weight training,” says Spring, who believes staying in shape is being a role model. “Clients gravitate to trainers who walk the walk.”
Louis agrees: “Trainers should lead by example. I tell clients I’m the extreme example.”
•Approx 50.8 million Indians suffer from diabetes
•Approx 87 million Indians will suffer from diabetes by 2030
•Diabetes mellitus or Type 2 diabetes or impaired glucose tolerance is the most prevalent formof diabetes in India
•4 years is the average delay in diagnosis in India
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