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Diabetes Mellitus (DM) or simply diabetes is a disease in which the body does not produce or properly use insulin. Insulin is a hormone that is needed to convert sugar, starches and other food into energy needed for daily life. This is the reason why diabetics need an insulin injection if the disease is already severe.

The cause of diabetes continues to be a mystery, although both genetics and environmental factors such as obesity and lack of exercise appear to play roles.
Statistics on Diabetes Mellitus, obesity and hypertension are startling. In the United States, a report says that 2 out of 3 (66.6%) adult Americans, and 15% of the children, are overweight. In the United States alone, there are about 17 million diabetics. Five to 10% have Type I (juvenile), and the rest, Type II (adult onset) diabetes. Before insulin was discovered in the early 1920s, type 1 diabetes had 100% mortality. In the past 10 years, there has been a 33% increased in the number of diabetic patients. It is indeed scary.

In another report by the Medical Observer, “Diabetes is not only a disease of the middle age. More and more, high school and elementary students [are being affected]. At age 22, bulag na e hindi pa kumikita (blind already while not yet earning money). At age 20 plus, nagda-dialysis na, possibly stroke and heart attack,” says Dr. Tommy Ty Willing, president of the Philippine Diabetes Association (PDA), during the recent observance of World Diabetes Day in November.

Pediatric endocrinologist Sioksoan Chan-Cua said that patients as young as five years old are coming to her clinic with type 2 diabetes, a disease usually associated with people 40 years old and above. “I’m getting patients with blood sugar of more than 1,000. They come in with diabetic ketoacidosis, a breakdown of fat tissues when the body cannot utilize the glucose very well anymore,” she said.

While there are no clear data yet among the young on the running incidence of type 2 diabetes, related statistics add up to a grim scenario. Type 1 diabetes, an autoimmune condition normally affecting the young, is rising by three percent worldwide, with 17 percent of children 14 and below developing the disease each year.
Chan-Cua said the Philippines is still low on this score compared with other countries, especially Scandinavian nations like Finland, Sweden, and Norway, but we are also seeing an increase every year. My perception on this is simple – Filipinos love sweets and fatty foods. Also, our staple food is rice, which is a starchy food item. This makes diet as the primary risk factor to diabetes in the Philippines in my view.

Moreover, mathematical modelling on projection yields that 380 million people are expected to develop diabetes by 2025 based on International Diabetes Federation/World Health Organization data, a good percentage will be coming from Southeast Asian countries, including the Philippines. This finding is no longer astonishing considering the latest statistics on Pinoys afflicted with diabetes and hypertension which continues to increase on the scale of medical records. This goes to show that statistics on Diabetes Mellitus in the Philippines continues to be unfavorable to the general population because of the continuous rise in the number of Filipinos developing diabetes every year which adds to the number of people who cannot enjoy life and are becoming less productive due to this disease.