Diabetes at epidemic level in St Kitts-Nevis

BASSETERRE, St Kitts — In St Kitts and Nevis, diabetes is bigger than zika, bigger than HIV/AIDS, says chief medical officer (CMO) Dr Patrick Martin.

“We have an epidemic of diabetes in the Federation… We have a diabetes rate of 20% in adults. One in every five adults has diabetes,” he said.

Martin said obesity is driving the epidemic in St Kitts and Nevis and the region.

He attributed the rise in juvenile diabetes to the increasing number of children that are overweight or obese. Martin said he has seen some children at the primary school level that weigh in excess of 170 pounds.

“At independence we had one or zero cases of diabetes in children; we’re now looking at about 15 to 20 and it’s climbing,” he noted.

The theme for this year’s World Health Day is “Beating Diabetes”, and Martin believes that is achievable. Bad lifestyle choices, not lack of awareness are to be blamed for the high rate of the disease, he suggested.

The CMO recommended, both for adults and children, a healthier diet of fresh fruits and vegetables over instant food items and ‘junk food’.