Singapore's adult diabetes rate at 12-year high

15:41, November 28, 2010      

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The rate of diabetes in Singapore has risen to a 12-year high, according to the latest national health survey.

Singapore TV broadcaster Channel NewsAsia reported on Saturday that 11.3 percent of adults aged between 18 and 69 years are diabetic, compared to 8.2 percent in 2004 and 9 percent in 1998.

The survey is done every six years.

The national survey also found there are more smokers with a bigger rise among youths, and 16.3 percent of youths aged 16 to 29 years smoke daily in 2010, compared to 12.3 percent in 2004. Also, 14.3 percent of adults smoke daily in 2010, compared to 12.6% in 2004.

For hypertension, the rate has dropped to 23.5 percent from 26. 8 percent in 2004 while that for high cholesterol has fallen to 17. 4 percent from 19.1 percent.

Meanwhile the obesity rate stands at 11 percent now, up from 6. 9 percent in 2004.

Health Minister Khaw Boon Wan hopes to reverse this. One way is to have guidelines to protect children against indiscriminate advertising of unhealthy foods.

But some doctors said this only addresses part of the problem.

Dr Nancy Tan, a paediatrician with SBCC Baby and Child Clinic, said that often, a child picks up eating habits from his or her family. And many of her obese patients also have overweight family members.

"Advertising doesn't raise awareness. You take away the advertisements but the shops are still there," she said.

Besides, she noted, "you can have tons of salad with tons of salad cream. It's how much you eat."

The Ministry of Health (MOH) also plans to reach out to pregnant women as well as parents of pre-schoolers through pre- schools.

Speaking at the National Health Award on Friday, Mr Khaw noted that "obesity and development are not Siamese twins. The Japanese and the Koreans have remained slim. Their obesity prevalence at 4 percent... is less than half of ours. We must understand their approach and see if it can be adopted here."



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