LAHORE  -  Half of population in Pakistan is at high risk of getting diabetes, say experts. Scientific survey has revealed alarming figures with 50 per cent of population found to be obese, which is a major cause of diabetes.

“This real time research survey provides the most reliable data on prevalence of obesity in Pakistan therefore should serve as a call for action for it leaves country’s half of population vulnerable to diabetes,” said Prof Dr AH Amir from Hayatabad Medical Complex, Peshawar, while sharing the findings of scientific data on obesity during a three-day 5th Annual Mid-Summer Endocrine Symposium held under the auspices of Pakistan Endocrine Society (PES).

He informed that World Health Organization (WHO) has set different guidelines on Body Mass Index (BMI) for global population and South Asia.

For global population, WHO calculates numeral 25 for normal BMI, 25 to 30 for overweight, 30 to 35 for obesity class-I, 35 to 40 for obesity class-II and 40 or above BMI for obesity class-III population. Whereas, WHO sets stricter BMI standards for South Asian countries, which set numeral 23 for normal BMI, 23 to 27.5 for overweight, 27.5 to 32.5 for obesity class-I, 32.5 to 37.5 for obesity class-II and with 37.5 or above BMI among obesity class-III population.

Considering World Health Organization’s (WHO) guidelines on Body Mass Index (BMI) for South Asia a benchmark, this real time research survey has been conducted on 18,856 subjects in all parts of the country according to required medical standards for such scientific surveys.

It reveals startling figures of 29 per cent of population overweight, 31 per cent among obesity class-I, 13 per cent of them in obesity class-II and 7 per cent among obesity class-III categorization, which suggests half of country’s population obese. The prevalence of obesity in the world is 19 per cent fewer than Pakistan as 31 per cent of world’s population is obese with 35 per cent of them being overweight, 20 per cent among obesity class-I, 7 per cent of them in obesity class-II and 4 per cent among obesity class-III categorization.

Prof Dr AH Amir, who is also a former President of PES, said that Endocrinology is primitive and less understood specialty in Pakistan, and therefore not many people are trained in this field of medicine. “Endocrinology is 90 per cent diabetes, and with every 5th or 6th person being a sugar patient suggests the scale of diabetes in Pakistan, and thus, the importance and need of Endocrinologists in Pakistan.

He said that diabetes was the main contributor of heart diseases, 50 per cent of kidney diseases, and 50 per cent of blindness. With these alarming factors, he regretted that there were merely about 60 Endocrinologists in Pakistan with not a single Endocrinologist in Balochistan.

Pakistan Endocrine Society (PES) launched an awareness campaign for prevention of gestational diabetes. At least, 1 in every 10 women is living with diabetes, and many do not have access to education, treatment and care. As gestational diabetes takes its toll among pregnant women, and resultantly, 1 in every 7 births is affected by gestational diabetes.

Therefore, the Endocrine experts emphasized to protect the health of mother and child by improving access to screening, care and education.

PES President Prof Dr Ali Jawa said that this mid-summer symposium, followed by annual conference earlier held in Lahore, was an opportunit y for young doctors and trainees to get familiar with latest advancements in Endocrinology.

He said that PES had taken annual conferences in big cities and mid-summer symposiums to smaller cities to create awareness among doctors in particular and public at large. “The people in smaller cities usually neither have resources nor access to specialized care such as Endocrinology so such symposiums provide an opportunity to local people to interact with specialists in the field,” he added.

With Holy Month of Ramazan just round the corner, he said that PES organized a special session on “Ramazan and Diabetes” with local community to inform them about management of the disease during Ramazan. “The doctors, while keeping in mind the injunctions of Islam, might advise the sugar patients to skip the fast. “As fasting can cause dehydration – a condition in which drugs become reactive, and not taking medicines is not an option,” the experts explained.

The South Asian Federation of Endocrine Societies (SAFES) President Dr S Abbas Raza said that SAFES initiative of “Run for a Healthy Life” had been launched with a 5-kilometer walk from Donga Gali to Nathia Gali in which men and women of all ages and children participated. “It was a huge success in serving the purpose of creating awareness about healthy lifestyle among the local community,” he added.

Furthermore, he said that SAFES guidelines on prevention, treatment, management and care of diabetes had been published in a journal, which was also launched during the symposium.

Besides, this 3-day program had back to back scientific sessions with Endocrine specialists including Prof Dr Adrian H Heald from UK, Prof Dr Hamid Farooqui from UAE and Prof Dr Reyaz A Malik from Qatar, experts from all over the country, who threw light on various aspects of the diabetes and other diseases focusing on their prevention, treatment, management and care. A pharmaceutical exhibition was also organized on the sidelines of the symposium.

The panel discussions focused on “Innovations in Diabetes, Lipids and Obesity”, “Thyroidology, Bones and Pregnancy”, “Conundrums of Endocrinology” and “Salt”, Prof Dr Abdul Jabbar delivered lecture on injectable therapies in Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus, Prof Dr Bilal Bin Younis spoke on diabetic foot management, Dr Osama Ishtiaq presented paper on delayed puberty, Prof Dr Taeed Butt on microphallus, Prof Dr Zaman Sheikh on menopausal women with hot flashes.

Besides, Dr Umer Yousuf, Dr Sadia Salman, Prof Dr Khurshid A Khan, Dr Ali Asghar, Prof Dr Saeed A Mahar, Dr Ibrar Ahmad, Prof Dr Najam-ul-Islam, Dr Fawad Ahmad Randhawa, Dr Atif Munir, Dr Waqas Shafique and others also spoke on different aspects on the subject.