c0ad12455ff48210VgnVCM100000e56411acRCRDapproved/thenational/Articles/Migration/2010-03'We are losing fight against diabetes'b0ad12455ff48210VgnVCM100000e56411ac____'We are losing fight against diabetes'Emirates Diabetes Society head says more preventative measures are urgently required to stem the diabetes epidemic.<p>ABU DHABI // More preventative measures, such as early detection, are urgently required to stem the diabetes epidemic, the head of the country's biggest anti-diabetes group said yesterday.
Dr Abdulrazzaq Ali al Madani of the Emirates Diabetes Society said people also needed to be responsible for their own health.
Since diabetes can be triggered by obesity and smoking, Dr al Madani suggested that schools give pupils more time to exercise and educate them about healthy lifestyles.</p>
<p>Sedentary jobs and tasks were turning more and more people into couch potatoes, putting them at risk of the disease, he said.
"People don't exert themselves physically, they just go home and watch serials on TV," said Dr al Madani, a consultant physician and endocrinologist, speaking on Dr al Madani, on the sidelines of a seminar for Middle Eastern diabetes experts.
"The problem is affecting children particularly. Children used to play in the street. Now they are on the couch in front of the PlayStation being fed sandwiches and juice."</p>
<p>According to the most recent studies, one in five Emiratis has diabetes, one of the highest rates in the world, due to a combination of genetic factors, an influx of fast food outlets and an increasingly sedentary lifestyle.
By 2025, diabetes is expected to affect a quarter of the population.
Diabetes damages the body's ability to process sugar in the blood.
If left untreated, it can lead to blindness and death.</p>
<p>Patients often require injections of insulin to break down sugar in their blood.
Dr Abdulrahman al Maghamsi, a consultant endocrinologist and chairman of the medicine department at the King Khalid Eye Specialist Hospital in Saudi Arabia, said prevalence rates there had reached 28 per cent.
Dr al Madani also said new data may indicate that the problem had been underestimated in the UAE.
"The Gulf countries are all the same," he said. "The genetics are the same, the lifestyle is the same and the food is the same."</p>
<p>Diabetes rates, especially in the Middle East and North Africa, continue to rise. This year, there will be 26.6 million adults with diabetes in the region. By 2030, that figure is expected to reach 51.7 million.
In the last year in which data were made available, only Nauru, a tiny island nation in the South Pacific, had a higher rate of diabetes than the UAE.
"The positive factor is that there has been in improvement of health services in these countries," said Dr al Madani.</p>
<p>"People used to have this disease without knowing it," he said.
Today, experts from around the world will gather at the Emirates Palace hotel to debate the growth of diabetes on the opening day of the three-day First International Abu Dhabi Diabetes Congress.