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What that beer belly tells about diabetes (The Straits Times, 7/11/2014)


By Salma Khalik

If you are under 30 years old and have a beer belly, you have a high chance of getting diabetes in your 30s, a study by the clinical research unit at the Khoo Teck Puat Hospital shows.

The team studied close to 2,000 diabetics, including 643 who had the disease at the relatively young mean age of 33, and found a significant link between a fat belly and diabetes. The findings where shared yesterday at the start of a three-day forum held by health-care group Alexandra Health System, which runs KTPH, to share research findings and best practices to improve patient care.

Some 170 posters detailing the research work of the staff of Alexandra Health were put up at the forum, including one that showed diabetes hitting people here at a younger age.

Dr Angela Koh, who led this study, found that out of 182 diabetes patients aged 30 years and younger, two in three had type 2 diabetes. She said this was in sharp contrast to the situation 10 years ago when the majority had the inherited type 1 diabetes.

The team also found that people who get diabetes at a young age are more likely to suffer from disease-related complications in their prime.

Mr Liak Teng Lit, head of Alexandra Health System, said in this opening address that 70 per cent of risk factors leading to diabetes can be prevented, such as eating healthier, exercising more and not smoking. He said the physical hospital is today "the least important part of health care". Instead, his team is moving upstream to keep people healthy and out of hospital.

Opening the forum, Health Minister Gan Kim Yong said the health-care sector here "is at a pivotal moment". With "new and evolving challenges" brought on by a rapidly ageing population and increasingly complex medical care, he said health care will have to be delivered with a team approach.

He commended Alexandra Health for its Diabetes Empowerment Programme. "Patients... understand better the goals of therapy, and have shown greater adherence to their care plans. As a result, their risk of diabetes related complications is reduced."

He also praised the health-care group's Ageing-In-Place programme, where nurses work with 1,700 patients and their care-givers in their homes to avoid the need for institutionalised care.

Ms Alice Sham, general manager for nursing at United Christian Hospital in Hong Kong, told The Straits Times that it started similar services a decade back so ill seniors do not have to move into homes to be cared for.

Each nurses does on average 1,900 home visits a year, said Ms Sham, who is attending the forum with about 40 health-care staff from Hong Kong. The event also drew professionals from Australia and New Zealand.

Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reproduced with permission.