In Focus: The Impact of Diabetes on Women

Every six seconds, a person dies from diabetes. In fact, this global epidemic caused five million deaths worldwide in 2015. This year on World Diabetes Day, the focus is on women.

"Gender roles and power dynamics influence vulnerability to diabetes, affect access to health services and health seeking behavior for women, and amplify the impact of diabetes on women." –International Diabetes Federation

Here’s a few information about diabetes and women.

  • At present, there are over 199 million women living with diabetes and this total is projected to increase to 313 million by 2040.
  • Diabetes is the ninth leading cause of death in women globally, causing 2.1 million deaths each year.
  • Two out of every five women with diabetes are of reproductive age, accounting for over 60 million women worldwide.
  • Women with Type 2 diabetes are almost 10x more likely to have heart disease.
  • Women with Type 1 diabetes have an increased risk of miscarriage or having a baby with malformations.
  • Nearly 1 in 7 births is affected by gestational diabetes or GDM – a severe and neglected threat to maternal and child health. Many women with GDM experience pregnancy related complications including high blood pressure, large birth weight babies and obstructed labor.

The cornerstone of the prevention of type 2 diabetes is the adoption of a healthy diet and increased physical activity.

What are the solutions to this global burden? The International Diabetes Federation suggests:

  • Comprehensive lifestyle programs aimed at improving nutrition and physical activity
  • Empowering women and girls with easy access to information and resources that will strengthen their capacity to prevent type 2 diabetes in their families and protect their own health
  • Early detection of diabetes and GDM must be a part of all antenatal care visits
  • Healthcare providers should be trained in the identification, treatment, management and follow up of diabetes during pregnancy.

World Health Organization tips to prevent type 2 diabetes:

  • Achieve and keep healthy body weight;
  • Be physically active – at least 30 minutes of regular, moderate-intensity activity on most days.
  • Eat a healthy diet, avoiding sugar and saturated fats intake
  • Avoid smoking.

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