Updated 23 March 2017

Ever heard of diabesity?

Type 2 diabetes is now so common people are talking about 'diabesity', a combination of diabetes and obesity.


Every single person who is about 10 kg overweight runs the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. If you're 20 kg or more overweight, you have a considerable chance of developing type 2 diabetes.

In South Africa more than two in every five people are overweight and like America we are heading for three epidemics: obesity, type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Specialists in the West warn that type 2 diabetes is becoming more prevalent among children, compared to 30 years ago when most people suffering from it were over 50. In South Africa type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels are also diagnosed in children as young as eight years. This is extremely worrying.

"We must stem this tide of type 2 diabetes by doing something about our kids' eating habits and lack of exercise," says Dr Jacobus van Dyk, a paediatric endocrinologist from Pretoria who heads a clinic for young diabetics. "If we don't act quickly we'll have enormous problems."

If you're overweight, on your way to diabetes or already have type 2 diabetes, it's vital you eat and exercise properly. Even if you're healthy it will do you an enormous amount of good to follow the guidelines left and below.

Exercise as follows

Diabetics benefit a great deal from exercise but all South Africans should become more active to prevent type 2 diabetes. Get your kids away from the TV and get them moving - otherwise we'll be heading for a diabetes pandemic. Thirty minutes' exercise three times a week is essential. Soccer, swimming, tennis, cycling, ballet and modern dancing are all excellent forms of exercise. Remember, if you don't control your diabetes by means of the correct diet, exercise and pills, daily injections will soon become necessary. And that's no joke!

This is how you should eat

  • Make sure you eat enough fibre. Two fruits a day and lots of vegetables with white meat is best.
  • Be careful of cooldrinks and fruit juice - they contain a lot of sugar.
  • Grill meat and avoid deep-fried foods.
  • Poach or boil eggs.
  • Don't forget, take-away foods (deepfried chicken pieces, hamburgers and pizza with lots of cheese) contain at least three times more fat than regular, home-cooked food.
  • Follow a low-GI (low glycaemic index) eating plan with very little rice, red meat, potatoes and chocolate.

Need help?

Visit the website of Diabetes South Africa to find a diabetes support group in your area.

(Article written by Ilse Salzwedel for You Pulse)

- (Health24, updated October 2012)


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Dr. May currently works as a fulltime endocrinologist and has been in private practice since 2004. He has a variety of interests, predominantly obesity and diabetes, but also sees patients with osteoporosis, thyroid disorders, men's health disorders, pituitary and adrenal disorders, polycystic ovaries, and disorders of growth. He is a leading member of several obesity and diabetes societies and runs a trial centre for new drugs.

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