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Obesity among Singaporeans remains a problem despite headways made in war on diabetes: Ong Ye Kung

SINGAPORE — While some headway has been made in the war against diabetes since it was declared five years ago, obesity and insufficient physical activity remain a problem among Singaporeans, Health Minister Ong Ye Kung said on Sunday (Nov 14).

SINGAPORE — While some headway has been made in the war against diabetes since it was declared five years ago, obesity and insufficient physical activity remain a problem among Singaporeans, Health Minister Ong Ye Kung said on Sunday (Nov 14).

In fact, Mr Ong said the obesity prevalence has risen across all age groups in Singapore from 8.6 per cent in 2017 to 10.5 per cent last year.

“We have returned to the previous level seen in 2010, after having decreases over the last decade,” said Mr Ong.

He was speaking during an event organised by Diabetes Singapore to commemorate World Diabetes Day.

The charity organisation, which is dedicated to the fight against the disease, served 7,752 patients this year, more than double the 3,107 patients in 2019.

Covid-19 has impacted Singapore’s progress.

“For some Singaporeans, deprived of social activities, their lifestyle may have become more sedentary, which will set us back in the war on diabetes and negate the initial results,” Mr Ong said.

The war on diabetes was announced by the Government in 2016 as an initiative to tackle a major health concern as it was found that one-third of Singaporeans would likely have diabetes in their lifetime.

On Sunday, Mr Ong said that if nothing is done, about one million Singaporeans will be living with diabetes by 2050.

THE WAR ON DIABETES

Despite the challenges in tackling obesity, Mr Ong said Singapore has made strides in disease management, with complication rates from diabetes on the decline from 2015 to 2019.

Citing some examples, he said the rate of newly diagnosed cases of kidney failure has dropped from 4.2 to 3.6 per 1,000 patients with diabetes.

Meanwhile, major lower limb amputation rates have fallen significantly from 115.9 to 66.3 per 100,000.

Still, Mr Ong said the war on diabetes will be long, and “any significant results will only show up many years later”.

Nevertheless, since the initiatives to curb diabetes began, Singapore is “seeing some initial signs of improvement” in the form of more Singaporeans living healthily, he noted.

For instance, the percentage of Singaporeans across all age groups who exercised regularly for leisure last year was 33.4 per cent, up from 29.4 per cent in 2017.

For adults aged between 50 and 74, the jump was from 23.5 per cent in 2017 to 31.4 per cent in 2020.

Mr Ong also urged younger Singaporeans between the ages of 18 and 39 to undergo a diabetes risk assessment on HealthHub to find out if they are at risk of developing the disease.

Tackling diabetes has become more critical in light of the Covid-19 pandemic, he added.

“Those with diabetes face an increased risk of developing severe Covid-19 complications and having poorer health outcomes,” Mr Ong said.

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diabetes obesity MOH Ong Ye Kung

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