World Diabetes Day is held on November 14 each year. The day aims to increase an awareness of the effects of diabetes and its complications amongst the general population and professionals in a range of sectors.It is also hoped that the increased awareness will lead to more resources to fight the causes of diabetes and help fund research into improved treatment options.
World Diabetes Day is held on November 14 each year. The day aims to increase an awareness of the effects of diabetes and its complications amongst the general population and professionals in a range of sectors.
It is also hoped that the increased awareness will lead to more resources to fight the causes of diabetes and help fund research into improved treatment options.
What do people do?
The World Diabetes Day campaign is led by the International Diabetes Federation and its member associations around the world, including the American Diabetes Association, Diabetes UK, Diabetes Australia, the Canadian Diabetes Association, Diabetes South Africa, Diabetes New Zealand and the Diabetic Association of India. These organizations arrange events at international, national and local levels.
- Conferences, workshops and seminars for health and public policy professionals.
- The distribution of information to encourage at risk individuals to be screened for diabetes.
- Events to highlight diabetes in local and national media, including television, newspapers and Internet publications
- The World Diabetes Day bike races to increase awareness of diabetes.
- The distribution of geocoins for use in geocaching (a game for global positioning systems users).
Civil leaders around the world issue proclamations on World Diabetes Day to raise awareness of diabetes in their communities. Many events aim to raise money for research into treatments for diabetes.
World Diabetes Day is a global observance and not a public holiday.
Diabetes is the common name for a range of conditions including diabetes mellitus type one and diabetes mellitus type two, diabetes insipidus and gestational diabetes. These are all conditions, which affect how the pancreas (an organ in the digestive system) secretes insulin or how the body reacts to this hormone. Depending on the type and severity, diabetes is controlled by dietary measures, weight loss, oral medication or injected or inhaled insulin. There is a wide range of short and long-term complications of diabetes including foot and eye problems and vascular diseases. It is estimated that one in three residents of the United States will develop diabetes at some point in their life.
On December 20, 2006, the United Nations (UN) passed a resolution to designate November 14 as World Diabetes Day. The occasion aimed to raise awareness of diabetes, its prevention and complications and the care that people with the condition need. Governments, non-governmental organizations and private businesses are encouraged to increase awareness of the disease, particularly among the general population and the media. World Diabetes Day was first commemorated on November 14, 2007, and is observed annually.
The official UN symbol for diabetes is a simple ring in the same shade of blue as is used on the United Nations Flag and many other United Nations symbols, also known as "Pantone 279". The inner diameter of the ring is 70 percent of the outer diameter. The ring is used in combination with the slogan "unite for diabetes", where the letters "U" and "N" of the word "unite" are also in UN blue color and the other letters are in black. The ring symbol was chosen because it is easy to display and could even be painted on a wall or home-made banner. In addition, it occurs widely in nature and has been used in many cultures to symbolize unity, life, the globe and health.
About World Diabetes Day
World Diabetes Day (WDD) is celebrated every year on November 14. The World Diabetes Day campaign is led by the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) and its member associations. It engages millions of people worldwide in diabetes advocacy and awareness. World Diabetes Day was created in 1991 by the International Diabetes Federation and the World Health Organization in response to growing concerns about the escalating health threat that diabetes now poses. World Diabetes Day became an official United Nations Day in 2007 with the passage of United Nation Resolution 61/225. The campaign draws attention to issues of paramount importance to the diabetes world and keeps diabetes firmly in the public spotlight. This year sees the second of a five-year campaign that will address the growing need for diabetes education and prevention programmes.
World Diabetes Day is a campaign that features a new theme chosen by the International Diabetes Federation each year to address issues facing the global diabetes community. While the themed campaigns last the whole year, the day itself is celebrated on November 14, to mark the birthday of Frederick Banting who, along with Charles Best, first conceived the idea which led to the discovery of insulin in 1922.
Diabetes Education and Prevention is the World Diabetes Day theme for the period 2009-2013. The campaign slogan for 2010 is 'Let's take control of diabetes. Now.'
Where is it celebrated?
World Diabetes Day is celebrated worldwide by the over 200 member associations of the International Diabetes Federation in more than 160 countries and territories, all Member States of the United Nations, as well as by other associations and organizations, companies, healthcare professionals and people living with diabetes and their families.
How is it marked?
The global diabetes community including International Diabetes Federation member associations, diabetes organizations, NGOs, health departments, civil society, individuals and companies develop an extensive range of activities, tailored to a variety of groups. Activities organized each year include:
- Radio and television programmes
- Sports events
- Free screenings for diabetes and its complications
- Public information meetings
- Poster and leaflet campaigns
- Diabetes workshops and exhibitions
- Press conferences
- Newspaper and magazine articles
- Events for children and adolescents
- Monument lightings
- Human blue circles
- Cycle Race
- Political Events
Is there a theme?
Each year World Diabetes Day is centred on a theme related to diabetes. Topics covered in the past have included diabetes and human rights, diabetes and lifestyle, and the costs of diabetes. Recent themes include:
2005: Diabetes and Foot Care
2006: Diabetes in the Disadvantaged and the Vulnerable
2007-2008: Diabetes in Children and Adolescents
2009-2013: Diabetes Education and Prevention
The World Diabetes Day logo
The World Diabetes Day logo is the blue circle - the global symbol for diabetes which was developed as part of the Unite for Diabetes awareness campaign. The logo was adopted in 2007 to mark the passage of the United Nations World Diabetes Day Resolution. The significance of the blue circle symbol is overwhelmingly positive. Across cultures, the circle symbolizes life and health. The colour blue reflects the sky that unites all nations and is the colour of the United Nations flag. The blue circle signifies the unity of the global diabetes community in response to the diabetes pandemic.
In recent years, World Diabetes Day has focused particularly on raising awareness of the complications of diabetes affecting the heart, eyes, kidneys, and feet. Click on the titles below to view information and materials produced for recent campaigns:
- 2007-2008: Diabetes in children and adolescents
- 2006: Diabetes in the disadvantaged and the vulnerable
- 2005: Diabetes and foot care
The following themes have been addressed since World Diabetes Day began in 1991:
- 1991: Diabetes Goes Public
- 1992: Diabetes: A Problem of All Ages in All Countries
- 1993: Growing Up with Diabetes
- 1994: Diabetes and Growing Older
- 1995: The Price of Ignorance
- 1996: Insulin for Life!
- 1997: Global Awareness: Our Key to a Better Life
- 1998: Diabetes and Human Rights
- 1999: The Costs of Diabetes
- 2000: Diabetes and Lifestyle in the New Millennium
- 2001: Diabetes and Cardiovascular Disease
- 2002: Your Eyes and Diabetes
- 2003: Diabetes and Kidneys
- 2004: Diabetes and Obesity
- 2005: Diabetes and Foot Care
- 2006: Diabetes and the Disadvantaged and Vulnerable
- 2007: Diabetes in Children and Adolescents
- 2009-2013: Diabetes education and prevention
Diabetes Education and Prevention
Diabetes Education and Prevention is the World Diabetes Day theme for the period 2009-2013. The campaign calls on all those responsible for diabetes care to understand diabetes and take control. For people with diabetes, this is a message about empowerment through education. For governments, it is a call to implement effective strategies and policies for the prevention and management of diabetes to safeguard the health of their citizens with and at risk of diabetes. For healthcare professionals, it is a call to improve knowledge so that evidence-based recommendations are put into practice. For the general public, it is a call to understand the serious impact of diabetes and know, where possible, how to avoid or delay diabetes and its complications. The key messages of the campaign are:
- Know the diabetes risks and know the warning signs
- Know how to respond to diabetes and who to turn to
- Know how to manage diabetes and take control
The objectives for the 2009-2013 campaign were informed by the work of the Federation’s Consultative Section on Education and its Task Force on Epidemiology and Prevention. The objectives were further informed by the World Health Organization’s 2008-2013 Action Plan for the Global Strategy for the Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable Diseases. This document is available online in English at http://www.who.int/nmh/en/.
The campaign goals are to:
- Encourage governments to implement and strengthen policies for the prevention and control of diabetes and its complications.
- Disseminate tools to support national and local initiatives for the prevention and management of diabetes and its complications.
- Illustrate the importance of evidence-based education in the prevention and management of diabetes and its complications.
- Raise awareness of the warning signs of diabetes and promote action to encourage early diagnosis.
- Raise awareness of and promote action to reduce the main modifiable risk factors for type 2 diabetes.
- Raise awareness and promote action to prevent or delay the complications of diabetes.
Types of diabetes
There are three main types of diabetes:
Type 1 diabetes is sometimes called insulin-dependent, immune-mediated or juvenile-onset diabetes. It is caused by an auto-immune reaction where the body’s defence system attacks the insulin-producing cells. The reason why this occurs is not fully understood. People with type 1 diabetes produce very little or no insulin. The disease can affect people of any age, but usually occurs in children or young adults. People with this form of diabetes need injections of insulin every day in order to control the levels of glucose in their blood. If people with type 1 diabetes do not have access to insulin, they will die.
Type 2 diabetes accounts for at least 90% of all cases of diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes is sometimes called non-insulin dependent diabetes or adult-onset diabetes, and accounts for at least 90% of all cases of diabetes. It is characterised by insulin resistance and relative insulin deficiency, either of which may be present at the time that diabetes becomes clinically manifest. The diagnosis of type 2 diabetes usually occurs after the age of 40 but can occur earlier, especially in populations with high diabetes prevalence. Type 2 diabetes can remain undetected for many yearsand the diagnosis is often made from associated complications or incidentally through an abnormal blood or urine glucose test. It is often, but not always, associated with obesity, which itself can cause insulin resistance and lead to elevated blood glucose levels.
Gestational diabetes (GDM) is a form of diabetes consisting of high blood glucose levels during pregnancy. It develops in one in 25 pregnancies worldwide and is associated with complications in the period immediately before and after birth. GDM usually disappears after pregnancy but women with GDM and their offspring are at an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life. Approximately half of women with a history of GDM go on to develop type 2 diabetes within five to ten years after delivery.
Other specific types of diabetes also exist.
Complications of diabetes
Type 1 and type 2 diabetes are chronic, life-long conditions that require careful monitoring and control. Without proper management they can lead to very high blood sugar levels which can result in long term damage to various organs and tissues.
Cardiovascular disease: affects the heart and blood vessels and may cause fatal complications such as coronary heart disease (leading to heart attack) and stroke. Cardiovascular disease is the major cause of death in people with diabetes, accounting in most populations for 50% or more of all diabetes fatalities, and much disability.
Kidney disease (diabetic nephropathy): can result in total kidney failure and the need for dialysis or kidney transplant. Diabetes is an increasingly important cause of renal failure, and indeed has now become the single most common cause of end stage renal disease, i.e. that which requires either dialysis or kidney transplantation, in the USA2, and in other countries.
Nerve disease (diabetic neuropathy): can ultimately lead to ulceration and amputation of the toes, feet and lower limbs. Loss of feeling is a particular risk because it can allow foot injuries to escape notice and treatment, leading to major infections and amputation.
Eye disease (diabetic retinopathy): characterised by damage to the retina of the eye which can lead to vision loss.
Women with gestational diabetes may have children who are large for their gestational age.
The risk factors for type 1 diabetes are still being researched. However, having a family member with type 1 diabetes increases the risks for developing the condition, as do the presence of some genetic factors. Environmental factors, increased height and weight development, increased maternal age at delivery, and exposure to some viral infections have also been linked to the risk of developing type 1 diabetes.
Several risk factors have been associated with type 2 diabetes and include:
- Diet and physical inactivity
- Increasing age
- Insulin resistance
- Family history of diabetes
Changes in diet and physical activity related to rapid development and urbanisation have led to sharp increases in the numbers of people developing diabetes.
Pregnant women who are overweight, have been diagnosed with Impaired Glucose Tolerance (IGT), or have a family history of diabetes are all at increased risk of developing Gestational diabetes (GDM). In addition, having been previously diagnosed with gestational diabetes or being of certain ethnicities puts women at increased risk of developing the condition.
Warning signs of diabetes
Individuals can experience different warning signs, and sometimes there may be no obvious warning, but some of the signs of diabetes are commonly experienced:
- Frequent urination
- Excessive thirst
- Increased hunger
- Weight loss
- Lack of interest and concentration
- Vomiting and stomach pain (often mistaken as the flu)
- A tingling sensation or numbness in the hands or feet
- Blurred vision
- Frequent infections
- Slow-healing wounds
The onset of type 1 diabetes is usually sudden and dramatic while the symptoms can often be mild or absent in people with type 2 diabetes, making this type of diabetes gradual in onset and hard to detect.
If you show these signs, consult a health professional.
Management of diabetes
Today, there is no cure for diabetes, but effective treatment exists. If you have access to the appropriate medication, quality of care and good medical advice, you should be able to lead an active and healthy life and reduce the risk of developing complications.
Good diabetes control means keeping your blood sugar levels as close to normal as possible. This can be achieved by a combination of the following:
Physical Activity: a goal of at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity per day (e.g. brisk walking, swimming, cycling, dancing) on most days of the week.
Body weight: weight loss improves insulin resistance, blood glucose and high lipid levels in the short term, and reduces blood pressure. It is important to reach and maintain a healthy weight.
Healthy Eating: avoiding foods high in sugars and saturated fats, and limiting alcohol consumption.
Avoid tobacco: tobacco use is associated with more complications in people with diabetes.
Monitoring for complications: monitoring and early detection of complications is an essential part of good diabetes care. This includes regular foot and eye checks, controlling blood pressure and blood glucose, and assessing risks for cardiovascular and kidney disease.
At present, type 1 diabetes cannot be prevented. The environmental triggers that are thought to generate the process that results in the destruction of the body’s insulin-producing cells are still under investigation. Type 2 diabetes, however, can be prevented in many cases by maintaining a healthy weight and being physically active. Studies in China, Finland and the United States have confirmed this.
IDF recommends that all people at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes be identified through opportunistic self-screening. People at high risk can be easily identified through a simple questionnaire to assess risk factors such as age, waist circumference, family history, cardiovascular history and gestational history.
Once identified, people at high risk of diabetes should have their plasma glucose levels measured by a health professional to detect Impaired Fasting Glucose or Impaired Glucose Tolerance, both of which indicate an increased risk of type 2 diabetes. Prevention efforts should target those at risk in order to delay or avoid the onset of type 2 diabetes.
There is substantial evidence that achieving a healthy body weight and moderate physical activity can help prevent the development of type 2 diabetes. In primary prevention there is an important role for the diabetes educator to help people understand the risks and set realistic goals to improve health. IDF recommends a goal of at least 30 minutes of daily exercise, such as brisk walking, swimming, cycling or dancing. Regular walking for at least 30 minutes per day, for example, has been shown to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes by 35-40%.