Hundreds of millions of poorer people with diabetes left untreated – dpa international

Pandemic restrictions have left city landmarks, such as this mall in Kuala Lumpur seen during Malaysia's first lockdown last year, mostly empty (Simon Roughneen)

Around three-quarters of the world’s people with diabetes cannot get the treatment they need, according to the University of Birmingham in Britain, which warned of “huge drop-offs” in care worldwide. Around 80 per cent of the world’s approximately 420 million diabetes sufferers live in so-called low and middle-income countries, but “fewer than 6 per cent of these individuals can access the care they need to manage their diabetes and prevent long-term complications like heart attacks, strokes, kidney diseases or blindness,” the researchers estimated.

US researchers warn against harsh diets, say fat can be fit – dpa international

Standing on an escalator, as people are seen doing in this mall in Malaysia, rather than climbing stairs ,is likely to reduce overall fitness (Simon Roughneen)

Overcoming weight-related health problems depends more on hard work and exercise than on cutting calories, according to health researchers in the US.Though excess weight contributes to diabetes and heart disease, crash-dieting not is the answer to a tripling of obesity and surge in related health conditions worldwide since the mid-1970s. When it comes to regaining health and reducing mortality risk associated with excess weight, “increasing physical activity and improving fitness appear to be superior to weight loss,” the researchers said, in findings published by Cell Press.

Research suggests diabetics face heightened risk from coronavirus – dpa international

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DUBLIN — Having diabetes doubles the risk of death after a novel coronavirus infection, according to research published on Thursday. According to a team of doctors and scientists from countries including Australia, China, South Africa and the United States, “the vulnerability of people with diabetes during a public health emergency became evident by their at least 2 times increased risk of severe disease or death” after contracting the virus.

Estimate puts 1.7 billion people worldwide at risk of severe Covid-19 – dpa international

Social distancing markers on floor of Dublin supermarket (Simon Roughneen)

DUBLIN — Some 1.7 billion people have at least one underlying health condition that “could increase their risk of severe Covid-19 if infected,” according to a British medical journal. Estimates published in The Lancet Global Health point to heightened risks from the coronavirus pandemic in regions with relatively high numbers of older people, such as Europe, and in regions with a higher prevalence of HIV/AIDS, such as Africa. Using data from 188 countries, the authors of the report estimate that 66 per cent of the world’s over-70s have an underlying condition – such as diabetes or cardiovascular disease – that could leave them vulnerable should they contract the new coronavirus. That percentage drops to 23 among working-age people, with only 5 per cent of under-20s estimated to have developed such a condition.

Indonesia and Malaysia follow Singapore’s lead in tackling obesity – Nikkei Asian Review

JAKARTA — As concerns grow about rising obesity in Southeast Asia, Indonesia will introduce legislation next year aimed at reducing the content of sugar, salt and fat in food. “We want to push our industry to make it low sugar, low salt, low fat,” Nina Moeloek, Indonesia’s health minister, told the Nikkei Asian Review. “Next year the Ministry of Industry will make regulations for sugar, salt and fat,” she added. In August Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong railed against sugar-laden drinks in a televized speech. Lee’s tirade prompted seven beverage makers, including Coca-Cola, to commit to “a maximum sugar content of 12% for all of their drinks sold in Singapore by 2020,” according to the health ministry of Singapore, where an estimated one in nine people are diabetic. Sugar taxes are also being considered in Singapore and will be implemented in Western countries such as France, Ireland and possibly the U.K.

In Southeast Asia, rising diabetes rates set off alarms – Nikkei Asian Review

The Diabetes and Metabolism Center at Singapore General Hospital (Simon Roughneen)

SINGAPORE — As Southeast Asia struggles with the rise of modern illnesses that have blighted Western societies such as heart disease and diabetes, a combination of government appeals and changing lifestyle choices suggests a growing awareness of the causes of such conditions.  In an Aug. 20 national day speech, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong of Singapore recommended that citizens cut back on sugar consumption — flagging-up the soft drinks that are popular among thirsty pedestrians cooling down after a walk in the city-state’s often stifling heat. “Just one can of soft drink can contain eight cubes of sugar,” Lee said. “That’s more than you need for one whole day.”=

Widening waistlines spell opportunity – Nikkei Asian Review

Mount Elizabeth Medical Center in Singapore, destination for medical tourists from around Asia (Photo: Simon Roughneen)

SINGAPORE – With “Western-style” ailments such as obesity and diabetes on the increase in Asia, health-related businesses are ramping up their efforts to keep those diseases at bay. Asia’s spending on health care has been soaring. By 2017, the region’s expenditure will reach $2.1 trillion, 24% of the global total, according to a report by The Economist Intelligence Unit. “As incomes rise, education levels also improve, creating much greater awareness of health issues,” the report said. But as Asians earn more, they are becoming not only better educated but also more susceptible to so-called “lifestyle” diseases — afflictions the World Health Organization classes as “noncommunicable” and “chronic.” Chronic maladies such as heart disease and diabetes are the No. 1 killers in Southeast Asia, accounting for 62% of all deaths, according to the WHO. Growing Asian affluence and the spread of fast-food chains have led to increasingly unhealthy eating habits, as foods high in fat, salt and sugar are consumed in greater amounts. This, in turn, has caused a spike in conditions previously more common in Western countries. Malaysia-based IHH Healthcare is among the hospital operators responding to the region’s growing medical needs. “Rapid growth, rapid rise in affluence and the development of the middle income group, these are all very favorable factors for the health care industry,” said Tan See Leng, IHH’s managing director and CEO, speaking at the FT-Nikkei Asia300 Forum in Hong Kong on April 25.