By Enyeribe Ejiogu
AS part of its Change Agenda, the Federal Government has been urged to lead a diet revolution to avert an epidemic of diabetes that may hit the country in the near future if urgent steps were not taken now to reverse the growing trend.
A consultant and endocrinologist at the Federal Medical Centre, Abeokuta, Nigeria, Dr. Biyi Adesina, who interacted with Sunday Sun reporter expressed worry over the diabetes profile of the country.
Adesina said that the change from the traditional African diet rich in fruits and vegetables to a westernized diet high in fats and calories in association with increased consumption of sugar-based drinks is responsible for the loomimg diabetes epidemic.
He noted that in 2014, the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) estimates for Nigeria indicated that there were 3.747 million cases of diabetes in Nigeria with a prevalence of 4.6% in adults.
The World Health Organization statistics further indicate that Nigeria has the highest number of people living with diabetes in sub-Sahara Africa. “Most Nigerians living with diabetes have suboptimal glycaemic control, hypertension and chronic complications,” Adesina said, and stressed that improved quality of care and treatment were urgently needed to reduce diabetes related morbidity and mortality.
In the same vein, he said, the Diabetes Association of Nigeria had posited that the “national diabetes priorities should include equitable, universal access to care, prevention of Type 2 diabetes through healthy lifestyle, promotion, development and implementation of a National Diabetes programme.”
“There is a greater epidemic coming our way in Nigeria when the children of today grow up tomorrow to be leaders: The diet they are consuming now high in all sorts of sugar sweetened drinks instead of fruits will lead to increased incidences of diabetes.
That is why the government should be in the forefront of a diet ‘ethical revolution’ for us to go back to the traditional African diet. There should be legislation on the quantity of sugar in the soft drinks, which is currently the equivalent of 15 cubes of sugar in a bottle. Pepsi Cola in USA recently did this. Children should be sent to school with water and oranges etc,” Adesina said.