Keynsham Voice, April Column: World health day

In case you missed the Keynsham Voice this month you can read our column here:

World health day

On Monday 7th April, people around the world took action to mark World Health Day. This year the spotlight is on diabetes, a disease that affects around 350 million people worldwide, and kills 1.5 million a year.

The World Health Organisation predicts that diabetes will be the world’s 7th biggest killer by the year 2030. This is shocking, especially when you consider that it’s a disease that is linked to lifestyle, and is entirely avoidable.

There are two types of diabetes – Type 1, which (very simply put) is when a person’s body doesn’t produce enough insulin, and Type 2 which results from the body’s ineffective use of insulin. Why and how people get Type 1 diabetes is unknown, but Type 2 is largely brought on by excess bodyweight and physical inactivity. It’s Type 2 which is really prevalent in the world today, affecting some 90% of everyone with diabetes.

So what has Transition Keynsham got to do with non-communicable diseases like diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes can be prevented by eating healthily and moderate exercise – which are key elements of sustainable lifestyles. To avoid Type 2 diabetes and other non-communicable diseases like heart disease and cancer, the World Health Organisation advises that people:

  • achieve and maintain a healthy body weight;
  • be physically active, doing at least 30 minutes of regular, moderate-intensity activity on most days;
  • eat a healthy diet of between 3 and 5 servings of fruit and vegetables a day;
  • eat a lot less sugar and saturated fats; and
  • give up smoking because it increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases.

The more people that follow this advice, the healthier we become, and our farming systems will become more diverse. We’ll grow some of our own food, support local biodiversity, and shop more locally, supporting our food producers and small shops.

Sounds idealistic? Yes, it does – but surely it’s better to aim for the stars and reach the moon than continue to eat ourselves and our planet to death?

Published in Keynsham Voice, April 2016, www.keynshamvoice.co.uk

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