(photo credit: Stockbyte)
The number of Israelis with diabetes – today there are 500,000 diagnosed and an
equal number as yet undiagnosed or with pre-diabetes – will double to two
million by 2025, unless the health authorities take action to fight
During Monday’s annual International Diabetes Awareness Day, the
National Council for Diabetes and the International Diabetes Federation
reiterated the importance of educating the public about the dangers of the
National Council Chairman Prof. Itamar Raz said: “The diabetes
epidemic is largely the failure of the society and the medical and educational
systems in for years focusing solely on treating patients. Educating towards
awareness of the importance of a healthy way of life, while performing early
diagnosis of high-risk populations and treatment, would have reduced the numbers
by tens of percentage points in a few years.
“We are working to prepare
prevention programs that will bring about a reduction in new cases in Israel,”
continued Raz, who heads the diabetes unit at Hadassah University Medical Center
in Jerusalem’s Ein Kerem neighborhood.
Dr. Sigal Shaklai, an
endocrinologist at Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center, said the prevalence of the
metabolic disease is rising here and abroad. Every year, another 30,000 patients
are diagnosed, totaling 10 percent of the population.
About a quarter of
people over age 65 have diabetes, she said. About 2,500 die each year from
complications on blood-sugar imbalance.
Prevalence is higher in low
socioeconomic groups, including the Arab population.
Among Jews of
Ethiopian origin, the diabetes rate has risen dramatically from 0.4% to 16% due
to changes in lifestyle.
Compared to the rest of the Western world, the
mortality rate from complications of diabetes is, at 33 per 100,000 –
significantly higher than in Europe (13 per 100,000) and the US (20 per
According to the World Health Organization, 80% of diabetes
type II cases are diagnosed in overweight people, and 44% are caused by obesity
resulting from unhealthy lifestyles.
Around the world, the number of
diabetics (most of them with Type II diabetes that results from lifestyle
problems rather than the autoimmune Type I form) has risen from 153 million in
1980 to 347 million in 2008; the figure is expected to rise to 472 million in
The Western lifestyle of lack of exercise, eating junk food and
obesity is responsible in addition to the aging of the
Complications affect the kidneys, eyes, nervous system, blood
vessels, heart and lower limbs. Treatments include oral pills, insulin
injections, diet, exercise and other lifestyle changes. Various new medications
that increase the excretion of natural insulin – only some of them in the basket
of medical technologies – are given to control sugar-insulin
Another type of drug controls the release of sugar into the
blood and may even slow the destruction of beta cells in the pancreas. Experts
recommend individualization of treatment depending on age, stage of disease,
complications and other chronic disorders.
The economic cost of diabetes
in Israel is some NIS 10 billion, or a fifth of national health
Measures to prevent complications include annual tests of
protein in urine, eye examinations, normalizing blood pressure rates, treatment
of high cholesterol and monitoring of the lower limbs.