50% of Iranians Overweight

One in three people aged 20 and older has diabetes in Iran; the figure is one in two for those above the age of 60
 The prevalence rate of diabetes is 5% in rural areas and 11.5% in cities. The prevalence rate of diabetes is 5% in rural areas and 11.5% in cities.

Type 2 diabetes is rising along with obesity and unhealthy lifestyles like excess calorie intake and lack of physical activity.

According to Health Ministry data, 50% of Iranians are overweight while 14% of men and 30% of women are obese and 19 million don’t have enough physical activity.

“Healthy diet, regular physical activity, maintaining a normal body weight and avoiding tobacco use are ways to prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes,” said Shahin Yar-Ahmadi, executive director of the ministry’s Diabetes Prevention and Control Plan. She was speaking  on the sidelines of a meeting on ‘health economics’ in Tehran on Friday.

Health economics is a branch of economics related to efficiency, effectiveness, value and behavior in the production and consumption of health and healthcare.

“The prevalence rate of diabetes is 5% in rural areas and 11.5% in cities, which indicates urban residents have more sedentary lifestyle or unhealthy dietary habits; however the figure is not the same in all cities and villages,” the Persian language newspaper ‘Iran’ quoted her as saying.

According to the country’s Endocrine Research Center, 15% of Tehranis suffer from diabetes and an additional 15% are in the pre-diabetes stage. During the last two decades the rate of the disease has increased by 11% in the capital. It is even higher in Yazd Province where almost 17% of people suffer from health complications due to diabetes.

One in three people aged 20 and older has diabetes in Iran. The figure is one in two for those above the age of 60.

Pointing to the World Health Organization’s Diabetes Program, she said, “Iran is committed to checking the rise in diabetes and obesity by 2025 and reduce premature deaths from the disease by 25%.”

Currently the rate of premature deaths due to diabetes is 18.1% which should be brought down to 13.6% by the end of 2025.  

  National Diabetes Prevention Program

The National Diabetes Prevention and Control Program was launched in 1996 and implemented in 17 provinces. The program covered 3 million people and provided for free screening and identified 22,000 people with diabetes.

It was revised in 2000 and 5.1 million people over the age of 30 were screened for the disease in villages, towns and cities. More than 155,000 diabetics were identified and the necessary health services were provided. The program was extended further to more cities and villages in 2011.

In October 2015 a national document for prevention of non communicable diseases (NCDs) was introduced. Measures taken so far to implement the document include reducing sugar in fizzy drinks to 10%, ban on junk food advertising on TV, and raising tobacco taxation.

Earlier, Ali Akbar Sayyari, deputy health minister had stated that that the 90-90-90 plan for control of NCDs would take off from the second half of the current year that started in March.

The plan aims to screen 90% of Iranians for NCDs including diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, cancers and chronic respiratory diseases following which health records will be created for 90% of screened individuals and health cards issued for 90% of the people with health records.

Based on the plan (which is also part of 2014 Health Reform Plan) an individual’s health in relation to other people in the same age group will be assessed and health cards in three colors will be issued for each.

People with red cards (serious health risks) should visit the physician regularly and would receive reminders. Those with yellow cards (average health) will receive health counseling and guidelines in improving their health and those with green cards (healthy people) will be encouraged to continue with the same healthcare and lifestyle.

The risk factors examined in the medical evaluation include diet quality, level of activity, smoking, use of tobacco and drugs, blood pressure, blood fat, blood sugar, and osteoporosis.

  Three Stages

There are three stages for prevention of diabetes; primary, secondary and tertiary. All these are applicable at different stages of the disease and are aimed at preventing the condition from worsening.

While primary is aimed at preventing the development of diabetes altogether, secondary and tertiary are aimed at controlling the disease.

Primary prevention of type 2 diabetes can be achieved by lifestyle interventions which lead to healthier eating and increased physical exercise. Secondary targets individuals with borderline elevations of blood glucose or other markers of risk, and tertiary tries to delay progression of the disease by regular checkups, medications and diet.  Tertiary prevention helps check conditions which are commonly associated with the disease like arthritis, heart diseases, foot ulceration, skin infections, glaucoma and asthma.

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