Bitter truth: Diabetes rising at alarming rate in Kingdom

Diabetes in the Kingdom is growing at an alarming annual rate of 80 percent, with 150,000 new cases reported every year.
This was revealed at a gathering of medical experts in the fields of glandular and diabetes-related diseases.
The participants explored the findings of a scientific study conducted among 1,300 fasting diabetics in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, UAE, Bahrain, Oman, Egypt, Lebanon, Indonesia, Bangladesh and Pakistan.
Dr. Salih Al-Jasir, consultant endocrinologist at King Abdulaziz Medical City’s National Guard Hospital, said countries across the world were spending $ 471 billion annually on diabetes patients. “The US alone spends nearly $ 230 billion compared to SR6 billion on diabetes-related cases in the Kingdom.”
The Head of Diabetes Center at the Ministry of Health, Dr. Mohammed Al-Harbi, said the incidence of diabetes in the Kingdom stood at 14.1 percent of the total population and that 28.9 percent of those infected were above the age of 30. These figures reveal that there were as many as 4 to 6 million diabetics in the Kingdom.
Research findings reveal that the Kingdom is ranked third globally in terms of the incidence of type one diabetes, especially among children, and that this type of diabetes has nothing to do with lifestyle, as many may be born with the disease, he said.
The ministry has decided to set up 28 diabetes centers Kingdomwide, of which 19 centers are already operational, he said.
Dr. Yusuf Salih, consultant of glandular diseases at the Health Affairs department at the National Guard, said that food consumption should, in fact, decrease with the advent of Ramadan and that the volume of work should increase. However, food consumption is found to increase four-fold compared to other months of the year and in the absence of any physical activity, people tend to put on weight.
Dr. Anwar Al-Jimah, another gland disease consultant, stressed the importance of having a pre-dawn meal.
“The later you have sahoor, the more beneficial for diabetics since they need to manage their blood sugar levels,” he said. He advised patients to avoid exercises during fasting hours, especially after Asr prayer, to avoid risks related to low blood sugar cases.