The Diabetes Association of Barbados has added another non-communicable disease, hypertension, to its mandate.
President of the Association Trudy Griffith said diabetes and hypertension are among the most common NCDs in Barbados, but while there is an association dedicated to people who have been diagnosed with diabetes, no such body caters to the needs of those with hypertension.
“We made that decision back in 2016 to add hypertension to our mandate. Regrettably, it has taken us a little bit longer than we anticipated,” Griffith said at a recent reception to observe the association’s 44th anniversary.
“Right now, if you look at the global prevalence of diabetes, you’re looking at perhaps one in six persons. In Barbados, I think we’re closer to one in four which is not great… and for a small nation such as ours, it really becomes concerning particularly in light of the comments made recently in terms of unnatural deaths, which may very well have a link to an NCD that has been undiagnosed and therefore, the person is at risk of complications that can cause death sooner than it ought to,” she stressed.
Griffith is also concerned that figures for hypertension are even more worrying.
“We’re probably looking at one in four, one in three persons with hypertension. So that is a concern that we need to address,” she said.
However, she believes that with proper management, people who have been diagnosed with the conditions can live full, productive lives.
“At the end of the day, regardless of our prevalence, the issue is controlled. Because if you have a controlled disease, you can live a long productive life. It’s when the disease is not controlled when it’s not managed well that you’re at risk of complications. And they may be complications that can’t be reversed. So, you’re actually heading down a spectrum where you’re hastening death,” she said.
She cited controlling portion sizes, exercise, and consuming more water as habits that could help in managing the diseases.
“In terms of our water consumption, we may drink sweetened beverages, whether it’s fruit juice, or whether it’s soft drink. Regardless of what it is, you really ought to be reading the nutrition label because that will guide you in terms of how many grams of carbohydrates you’re having in addition to the food that you’re consuming.
“So if you say for the average adult you should be consuming 60 grams of carbs per meal, if you look at an average soft drink you’re probably somewhere in the 40 to 50 grams region already. And that is outside of the meal that you’re consuming.”
With regard to physical activity, Griffith said the island is “not even there yet”.
“A lot of persons are sedentary and it does not create an atmosphere where you can lead a healthy lifestyle,” she lamented.
While the Diabetes Association seeks to provide support to those who suffer from the condition, Griffith maintains that any success will depend on the individual.
“You can put the best information out there. Unless you have accepted that you have a diagnosis and you want to do something different, then you’re not going to get anywhere. I can tell you what to do, how to do it [but] if you’re not willing to do it, if you haven’t accepted that you need to do something about it, it’s not going to make a difference.
“So we need persons to start accepting that they have a condition that they don’t have any control over for the most part, but they can start controlling it by what they do. A lot of persons may talk about diabetes reversal but the diabetes reversal can only be sustained if you maintain the changes that you implement,” Griffith said. (MCW)