One in three Singapore residents will develop Type 2 Diabetes in their lifetime.
One million Singaporeans are projected to have the disease by 2050.
The risk of developing diabetes is increasingly higher as a result of lifestyle choices combined with pre-existing and hereditary conditions.
So, here is everything you need to know about diabetes -- in general.
1. I am young and I feel well, why should I care about diabetes?
Singapore is the nation with the second highest proportion of people with diabetes among developed nations.
About 440,000 Singaporeans aged 18 and above live with the disease. That’s about 11 percent of the local population. One in three Singaporeans have a lifetime risk of developing diabetes.
Diabetes, especially in early stages, show no symptoms.
Complications from poorly controlled diabetes may take years to develop and may lead to other health issues like blindness, kidney failure, stroke, heart disease, impotence and nerve damage.
So, because you are young, all the more you should start caring about preventing diabetes.
2. Is there an easy way to know my risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes?
You can try taking this Diabetes Risk Assessment which only takes two minutes, and it’s free.
It is developed for people between 18 to 39 years old.
If you are above 40 years old, it is recommended that you go for cardiovascular risk screening, including diabetes, every three years.
3. I hate to pay money to find out what’s wrong with me. So, why should I find out my risk?
Because even if you are an ignorant cheapskate, it is your right to know that it is not expensive to get a health check-up in Singapore these days.
Health screening at CHAS GP clinics will cost you a low, fixed fee of just S$5 or less (including the GP consult fees too!) under the Screen for Life programme.
You can visit screenforlife.sg to find out if you are eligible.
If you are 18 to 39 years old, and found to be at higher risk via the Diabetes Risk Assessment, you will be invited to go for screening under the Screen for Life programme at the subsidised rate of S$5 or less.
4. Is there a reason why health screenings are cheap or free? What is the catch?
This is due to the Screen for Life (SFL) programme, which aims to encourage more Singaporeans to go for the recommended health screenings and have the necessary follow-up.
Since Sept. 1, 2017, subsidised screening and one post-screening consultation (if needed) is accessible and affordable for all Singaporeans! Further subsidies are available for the Pioneer Generation (PG) cardholders, and Community Health Assist Scheme (CHAS) cardholders.
They are eligible as long as they are recommended by the Health Promotion Board to go for screening and is available at all CHAS GP clinics.
Singaporeans 40 and above would have or will receive a Screen for Life letter inviting you to go for screening at a CHAS GP clinic.
If you are 18 to 39 years old, and found to be at higher risk via the DRA, you will be invited to go for screening under the Screen for Life programme.
5. I have trouble understanding what I should screen for. Is there a handy cut-out-and-keep chart I can save as a picture in my phone where I can browse?
6. I feel like I'm not scared enough to go for screening. Are there any scary facts about diabetes you can tell me to jolt me sensible?
- Amputation: People with poorly controlled diabetes may develop gangrene in their extremities as a result of an infection that goes undetected from nerve damage. When this happens, amputation may be the only solution.
- Screening is important as many people with diabetes often show no symptoms during the early stages of the condition. Even people who feel well can have it without knowing.
- Having diabetes will mean having to make lifestyle adjustments. This includes having to watch what you eat for every meal daily, going for check-ups more frequently and cutting down on alcohol consumption. Therefore, screening is important as it can help you to take pre-emptive steps to reduce your risk of developing diabetes (e.g. if you have pre-diabetes, which is higher than normal blood sugar levels but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes, you can take steps to reverse it or delay the progression to diabetes), thereby potentially reducing the time and cost that may be spent on managing diabetes in the future
7. Name me simple things I can do to avoid diabetes?
- Lose weight if overweight.
- Have a healthy diet. Start by eating enough fruits and vegetables: Fill half of your plate with fruit and vegetables. Pick wholegrain food as they fill you up more easily, leaving you less hungry.
- Also, limit processed food and opt for protein-rich options, such as lean cuts of meat, fish, eggs, milk, yoghurt, cheese, lentils, legumes, nuts, and seeds.
- Aim for 150mins of physical activity a week.
- Quit smoking if you’re a smoker.
- Have sufficient sleep.
- And choose water over sugary beverages.