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Modernity and diabetes

It was Jean-Claude Mbanya, lately President of the International Diabetes Federation that both poignantly and succinctly stated in year 2011 that '...development is driving a transformation in lifestyles: the motorization of the urban environment and the televisionization of free time are resulting in the sedentarization of adult and, more worryingly, child behaviour. This is one of the downsides of 'progress'. The other is the increased consumption of processed foods'.

According to Vasanti S et al, 'it has also been long suspected that sugar sweetened beverages contribute at least in part to the obesity epidemic, only in recent years have large epidemiologic studies been able to substantiate the relationship between sugar sweetened beverages consumption and long-term weight gain, Type 2 diabetes and increased risk of heart disease'.

From the foregoing, it becomes needful to critically examine the impact of prolonged television viewing and frequent consumption of sugar sweetened drinks.
Apart from its deleterious effect on academic performance in children, television viewing also has an impact on the health status of individuals. After all said and done, health is a personal matter and thus remains the preserve of the individual to take care of his or her lifestyle as it does have significant consequences on health. The current worldwide scourge of Diabetes has a lot to do with lifestyle that is increasingly becoming sedentary. 
Inadequate physical activity is a risk factor for the development of Type 2 diabetes. The amount of time spent watching television - and by extension the amount of time spent being sedentary, predicts the likelihood of development of diabetes.

The greater the amount of time spent watching television, the higher the risk of developing obesity which is a risk factor for the development of diabetes. Research has shown that men who spend more than 40 hours a week watching Television were 3 times more likely to develop diabetes than men who watch it for less than 1 hour per week. This occurs not only because of the reduced exercise time but also because of the increased propensity to eating a snack or consuming a sweet drink with loads of calories while watching Television. It has thus been said that 'no one really needs a scientific study to confirm what simple common sense is.
We all know that exercise is better for your health than sitting in front of the TV'.
Certain pieces of advice about Television watching have been found useful in both old and young. First is the need to watch what you eat when you watch Television. Consumption of energy dense foods while watching Television is unhelpful and thus should be strictly controlled. Healthy drinks like water and healthy food portions like fruits and vegetables are advised as such times. Similarly, declaration of some days as Television free days and using such time for exercise is indeed helpful. It is said that in the long run, individuals find these Television free days more enjoyable than Television viewing days.

Television watching in the bedroom is strongly advised against. This habit is said to increase the Television watching time and reduce the likelihood that the individual will do anything else for a great while. The room should thus be strictly for sleeping and other beneficial activities but not for Television viewing.

Television watching during meals is said to be double trouble in that it increases the chance that you will overeat and also likely prolong viewing time which two are not helpful for blood sugar control and also likely leads to weight gain.
It is very strongly advised that the remote controls should not be kept at hand but hidden away. Thus when the need to change the channel occurs it will take some effort of standing up and walking to the set and thus help in burning some calories. With the remote control at hand, an initial plan to watch a 1 hour program can degenerate into hours of flipping from channel to channel with consequent important effect on health.

There is the urgent need to reduce sitting time and to promote exercise in order to reduce the risk of the development of obesity, diabetes and other forms of ill health that can put the heart at risk. Light to moderate exercise like walking is associated with considerable reduction in the risk of becoming obese or developing Type 2 diabetes.
To control diabetes in individuals with diabetes, and to prevent it in adolescents and adults, we do need to turn off the Television and start walking!

On its own part, consumption of sugar -sweetened drinks are not only associated with progressive increase in weight but also with the development of Type 2 diabetes.
Drinks in this category include soft drinks, fruit drinks, sports drinks, energy waters, sweetened tea, cordials, squashes and lemonade. Scientific research has shown that those who drink at least one sugar-sweetened drink a day have a greater risk of developing diabetes than individuals who drink less than one such drink in a month. 

Fructose which is present in large amounts in these drinks is known to promote accumulation of fat inside the abdomen which has significant untoward effects on health and general wellbeing.
Fat accumulation in the abdomen is known to significantly reduce the effectiveness of insulin in keeping the blood sugar level within normal range, thus greatly increasing the propensity for developing diabetes and other diseases that affect the heart and blood vessels.
Millions of Africans; both young and the young at heart currently indulge in the habit of consumption of these drinks. These drinks are ubiquitous; from Cape to Cairo, mansion to mud huts.

They are sweet and quite very affordable, but the price that may be paid years later is quite a heavy one. It is said that these drinks were once thought to be an innocent source of refreshment, but science has proven this to have been a costly misconception.
The world over, consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages has been on the increase and it is believed to be one of the reasons why many more individuals are becoming overweight and obese.

Consumption of any such drink after a meal further places the insulin producing cells in the pancreas under further stress in that they need to increase their output of insulin to combat the increased load of calories.
Intake of these drinks is known to promote weight gain because of their high added sugar content. They also have a low satiety potential in that after individuals have taken such drinks, they still will take their usual quantity of food not taking into cognizance the earlier calorie consumed in the sugary drink.

It should be known that the average can of soft drink sold in the United States contains the equivalent of ten teaspoons of table sugar!
This fact has been corroborated by Bakari and Onyemelukwe; Nigerian researchers who posited in their paper titled " Simple sugar and caloric contents of soft drinks in Nigeria" that Nigerian soft drinks they analysed contains significant amount of refined sugars like glucose, sucrose and fructose.

They also posited that during periods of aggressive promotion by the marketing companies of such drinks, increases in drinking occur as promises of rich rewards are made to the population.
Part of their submission was that high intake of soft and malt drinks may lead to and aggravate obesity, a known risk factor for diabetes, hypertension and other non-communicable diseases.

The effect of intake of sugar-sweetened beverages is more in women.
A scientific study that followed up for more than eight years women who drank one or more than sugar-sweetened drink per day concluded that they have a greater risk of developing diabetes."Diet" soft drinks may be a viable though controversial alternative.
From the foregoing, it is not only imperative but wise for individuals to greatly limit their intake of sugar-sweetened beverages and drink water instead in order to reduce the risk of becoming fat and developing diabetes and diseases of the heart. An ounce of prevention, it is said, is worth more than a pound of cure.

The drive in Western countries to replace conventional soft drinks with sugar free alternatives ought to be emulated in Africa.

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