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Filipinos twice more likely to develop Type 2 Diabetes

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By Celestina Shori

National Diabetes Week runs from 10-16 July 2022 and should hold significant importance to the Filipino people. 

Diabetes is the fourth leading cause of death in the Philippines. However, diabetes complications contribute to the top two causes of death: ischemic heart disease and cerebrovascular disease. 

Among the other complications of diabetes are chronic renal (kidney) failure, diabetes retinopathy (the leading cause of avoidable sight loss and blindness in Australia), and peripheral neuropathy (the leading cause of amputation). 

Researchers from the US and Canada have found that Filipinos are twice as likely to develop Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus (T2DM) as the rest of the population despite not being obese and having relatively low body weight. There is an increased risk of developing T2DM from the first to third generations of Filipinos due to the prevalence rate of overweight and obesity in subsequent generations. A Canadian study showed that younger Filipinos aged 14-19 had significantly higher rates of undetected elevated blood glucose, blood pressure, and body weight. Younger Filipinos were identified to be of higher risk with earlier onset T2DM. Early-onset T2DM is more aggressive and has potentially devastating effects on the person and their families due to the risk of diabetes associated complications and diabetes related death and disability. For women who have had gestational diabetes in pregnancy, there is a 50% increased risk of developing T2DM within ten years of diagnosis.

The current trends of lifestyle and diet of Filipinos have shifted towards the demands of living in a westernised country which include the consumption of food that are high in fat, sugar, and salt coupled with a sedentary lifestyle and stressful environments. This is the current health problem we face today. The increasing trend of emerging health problems for our future generation is complicated by developing T2DM. 

As a community, we need to prevent T2DM, which is imperative in reducing the previously mentioned risk factors for us and our future generations. The Diabetes Prevention Project of Western Sydney Local Health District have recruited health care professionals from a Filipino background, including medical practitioners, diabetes nurses educators, dietitians, exercise physiologists and community leaders, to form The Filipino Australian Diabetes Support Network (FADSN). We are a group of volunteers passionate about diabetes and our community.

We aim to provide awareness, education, support and guidance to our Filipino community to prevent the development of T2DM and its complications. We have created a Facebook page wherein our health professionals post beneficial information and healthy tips such as recipes and exercise to specifically cater to our community.

There is an upcoming FADNS Diabetes Forum on Saturday, 3 September 2022, at Blacktown City Library from 10am to 1pm. People are welcome to join this free event. 

For registration details, please visit our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/FilipinoAustralianDiabetesSupportNetwork

Should you have any enquires please email us on: filipinoaustraliandiabetes@outlook.com

Celestina Shori is a member of the FADSN Leadership Team. She is a Nurse Practitioner Candidate at the University of Sydney, Senior Clinical Nurse Specialist – Diabetes, Credentialled Diabetes Educator (CDE), and Sessional Lecturer – University of Technology Sydney


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