14 November 2013 – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today urged lowering the number of people living with diabetes – increasingly younger and poorer – by changing unhealthy lifestyles that include poor diets and a lack of exercise.
“In today’s world of plenty, it is shameful that so many people lack access to healthy foods,” Mr. Ban stated in his message for World Diabetes Day, observed annually on 14 November.
Instead of relying on fast foods and quick solutions, he called on countries and communities “to support smallholder and family farmers, foster sustainable agriculture and encourage people to eat healthful produce and support physical activity”.
Approximately 350 million people are currently living and the number is expected to double between 2005 and 2030, according to projections by the UN World Health Organization (WHO).
Earlier this year, countries meeting at the World Health Assembly adopted a Global Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable Diseases calling on countries to stop the rise in obesity and the associated rise in diabetes.
“On World Diabetes Day, I call on Governments to make good on their commitments to address non-communicable diseases, including by fostering sustainable food production and consumption,” Mr. Ban said, “and I encourage all people to minimize their personal risk.”
Diabetes – which occurs when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin, or when the body cannot effectively use the insulin it produces – has become one of the major causes of premature illness and death in most countries, mainly through the increased risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD).
More than 80 per cent of people with diabetes live in low- and middle-income countries and are frequently between 35 and 64 ages old, WHO reported, adding that early diagnosis and proper treatment are key to controlling the disease.
“Nearly one hundred years after insulin was first used to save the life of a diabetic patient, people around the world still die because they cannot access this hormone,” Mr. Ban stated.
Started by WHO and the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), the Day is celebrated on 14 November to mark the birthday of Frederick Banting who, along with Charles Best, was instrumental in the discovery of insulin in 1922, a life-saving treatment for diabetes patients.