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New report reveals shocking knowledge gaps around type 2 diabetes risk factors

Published on 14/11/19 at 01:15pm

A new report released on World Diabetes Day has shone a light on a startling lack of knowledge surrounding type 2 diabetes, a condition that accounts for around 90% of the over 450 million cases of diabetes worldwide, according to the World Health Organization.

The report, released by Merck KGaA and conducted by YouGov, collated the responses of 9,350 adult participants across nine countries: Brazil, Mexico, Russia, United Arab Emirates, Malaysia, Vietnam, China, Saudi Arabia and Chile.

It was found that 56% of respondents were unaware of the preventable nature of the condition, with 46% committing that it was not preventable, while 10% were unsure. Following on from this, 41% did not know that there were steps that could be taken to delay or prevent development of the disease, or what these steps may be.

Additionally, 46% did not know that having a relative who has developed the condition represents an increased risk of developing the condition yourself, with 30% unaware and 16% unsure. Furthermore, 29% erroneously believed that development of the condition can be identified in the early stages by observing tell-tale signs and symptoms; in reality, lab tests are required to confirm the emergence of the condition in the majority of cases.

“The results of this international survey demonstrate that more needs to be done to raise awareness of diabetes and its causes. With close to 700 million people predicted to develop type 2 diabetes by 2045, we need to act now to address prediabetes and help prevent a disease that can cause many long-term and permanent complications for people,” remarked Francois Feig, Head of General Medicine & Endocrinology at Merck. “We know that type 2 diabetes can, in many cases, be delayed or prevented, which is why it is crucial that we continue to educate people about the risk factors and the lifestyle changes that can really make a difference.”

Professor Nam Cho, President at International Diabetes Federation, also commented:  “The results of this survey are timely and important. Diabetes is a leading cause of blindness in the working-age population, lower-limb amputation, cardiovascular disease and kidney failure. Early death and type 2 diabetes is on the rise in most countries. However, simple action can help to reduce the risk of developing the condition. There is evidence that type 2 diabetes is preventable, which is why, this World Diabetes Day, we are focusing on families. If we can raise awareness and help people better understand their and their family’s risk, we can hopefully prevent more people from developing type 2 diabetes.”

While the findings of the report reveal a pressing need for greater and more effective education efforts to fill these crucial knowledge gaps, it is hoped that they will spur wider awareness among the public and encourage them to consult a medical professional for help in preventing, delaying or managing the condition.

Matt Fellows

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