Diabetes - A Growing Menace in the UAE

The International Diabetes Federation (IDF) released an updated global figure of diabetics for 2014: 387 million compared to 2013’s 382 million. The two major types of diabetes are type 1 and type 2. Those with type 1 diabetes have elevated sugar levels in the blood because their pancreas were attacked by the body’s immune system, causing it to fail to produce insulin, the hormone that converts sugar into energy. They are insulin-dependent. Those with Type 2 diabetes have elevated sugar levels in the blood because the body failed to use the carbohydrate in food for energy. They are insulin-resistant.

Complications in body systems may develop over time in those with prolonged high blood sugar. Diabetics have a high chance of heart disease and stroke, kidney failure, vision problems and blindness, gum disease and tooth loss, and nerve damage in the hands, feet, and organs.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) ranks 16th globally, with 19 percent of diabetics in the population, indicating that the region has high risk factors for diabetes, mostly related to increasing obesity and a sedentary lifestyle.


Experts are uncertain of the reasons why the immune system attacks the pancreas, but most suspect a mix of genetic vulnerability and environmental causes. Scientists have determined 50 genes that increase the chance of developing type 1 diabetes. But heredity alone doesn’t account for all the risk, some researchers believe that environmental instigators, such as a virus, or dietary or pregnancy-related factors may be culprits as well.

An inactive lifestyle, unhealthy eating habits, and weight gain are cited as the main triggers of the rising occurrence of Type 2 diabetes in the UAE.

Prevention and Management

Fruits & Vegetables

According to the IDF, 58 percent of type 2 diabetes can be avoided by taking on a healthy diet and by maintaining physical activity. Screening of pre-diabetes for early detection can result in the prevention of diabetes since a lifestyle change can be implemented before pre-diabetes becomes a full-blown disorder. Not only should the government help in preventing diabetes, discussions and dialogue should also be encouraged during corporate meetings in Dubai on diabetes with free or subsidized offers on pre-diabetes screening being included during annual health check-ups. Active involvement and education on how to prevent diabetes should also be taken up.

Stress can trigger blood pressure to rise and escalate blood sugar levels as part of your "fight or flight" reaction or binge eating to cope with stress. Stress can be managed by trying relaxation methods such as deep breathing, meditation, or visualization. Oftentimes, just talking to a friend, family member, or a therapist can help. Call your doctor if you have difficulty reducing your stress levels.

Medication can help if those with type 2 diabetes fail to control blood sugar with healthy diet and exercise. Many kinds of diabetes pills are existing, some are taken in combination. Some pills work by inciting the pancreas to produce more insulin, and others to hinder the absorption of starches.


InsulinType 1 diabetics must take insulin shots to aid the body in processing blood sugar. The number of insulin shots will depend on the results of your blood sugar testing. The objective is to maintain sugar levels in the normal range regularly.

An insulin pump, another alternative to insulin shots, delivers regulated insulin unceasingly through a tiny tube inserted into the skin. Aside from keeping your blood sugar steady, an insulin pump permits more flexibility in meal planning.

It is said that charity begins at home, in this case it definitely does. The earlier we get children educated and involved on the how’s and why’s of diabetes and how it can be prevented, the better the chances are of a healthier diabetes free population in the future. Children carry the mantle of the future and with families getting involved and being better informed, the probability of healthier lifestyles becoming part of the accepted norm are higher.

To educate the UAE about diabetes, the government should hold conferences, conventions and programmes at school and in local communities to galvanize the local population into taking pro-active measures to battle diabetes. Convention and conference planners in Dubai should also be encouraged to come up with educational as well as motivational activities and projects to not only inform people but also to initiate action.

 Diabetes Walk Dubai

brains at work Directors at the Diabetes Walk in Dubai.

Diabetes Walk D&A



This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor.
brains at work disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.


Image courtesy: Victor Casale