The Silence of Diabetes: A Growing Killer in the Philippines

Awareness and information help people take charge of Type 2 diabetes

Statistics released by the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) show that 463 million people worldwide have diabetes and that the disease has caused 4.2 million deaths in 2019. As alarming as those numbers may be, the figures have been on the rise for decades, with the global prevalence of diabetes among adults almost doubling from 4.7 percent in 1980 to 8.5 percent in 2014.  

Diabetes and COVID-19

In the Philippines, studies found the prevalence rate of diabetes among adults between 20 to 79 years old to be at 7.1 percent in 2019. With the onset of COVID-19 in 2020, Filipinos living with diabetes are significantly affected.

Diabetes is a chronic condition that occurs either when the body cannot produce enough insulin or the body cannot effectively use the insulin it produces. Individuals with poor blood sugar control can experience an immunocompromised state, increasing the risks of contracting serious diseases such as COVID-19.

Most diabetic Filipinos suffer from Type 2 diabetes, which results from the body’s ineffective use of insulin. It is closely associated with excess body weight and physical inactivity. Type 2 diabetes was thought to most often develop in adults past the age of 45, but new data shows that the age groups affected by the disease are growing, as the prevalence of pediatric Type 2 diabetes is higher now compared to 10 years ago.  

“A sedentary lifestyle increases an individual’s likelihood of developing Type 2 diabetes, and the possible complications of diabetes are a threat to a person’s quality of life,” said Dr. Marie Yvette Rosales-Amante, a fellow of the Philippine Society of Endocrinology Diabetes and Metabolism. “If left untreated, diabetes can lead to heart attacks,  stroke, blindness, or limb amputations.” 


On top of the health complications, Type 2 diabetes can also take a toll on a person’s emotional well-being. Studies have shown that people with diabetes are 20 percent more likely to experience anxiety and two to three times more likely to experience depression, establishing a connection between worries, frustration, and fatigue in dealing with daily diabetes care and a person’s mental health. 

Fortunately, there are actions we can take to reduce the chances of getting the disease. While lifestyle choices such as limiting sugar intake, getting regular exercise, and avoiding a sedentary lifestyle can all help mitigate the onset of Type 2 diabetes, early knowledge of your diabetes risk potential is important in creating long-term strategies for prevention.

“With diabetes numbers increasing locally and with more groups of people now getting affected by the condition, the need to take preventive actions is imperative. By getting screened for diabetes, people can assess their lifestyles to uncover any potential risk factors and take the necessary actions to prevent the onset of Type 2 diabetes,” said Dr. Rosales-Amante.

Continuous Glucose Management 

“For individuals looking to stay on top of diabetes, the role of information in effectively managing this condition is crucial. Real-time data derived from Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM) tools empower people with diabetes to make informed choices about food, exercise, and other factors involved in diabetes management,” said Jose Bernardo Pacheco of Abbott.

“As self-management encompasses a good portion of diabetes care, CGM tools are designed to simplify the management process by removing the guesswork when it comes to daily lifestyle patterns and glucose levels. Through regular use, these tools can help people manage diabetes,” he added.  

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People living with diabetes can enjoy the freedom to live how they want. By staying informed on their conditions, employing technological innovations such as CGM, and consulting with health professionals, the choice to enjoy life is easy. 


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