Singapore prepares national Diabetes Action Plan as government and academics plough in resources

By Gary Scattergood contact

- Last updated on GMT

Ten per cent of Singaporeans aged 20-79 are estimated to have diabetes. ©iStock
Ten per cent of Singaporeans aged 20-79 are estimated to have diabetes. ©iStock

Related tags: Diabetes mellitus, Diabetes

Singapore health officials will launch the county’s first Diabetes Action Plan next year in response to the City State being identified as having the second-highest proportion of diabetics among developed nations.

Today, 400,000 Singaporeans are diabetic, a number that is predicted to increase to 1m – around one-sixth of its population – by 2050.

Ministers marked World Diabetes Day this week by announcing its Diabetes Prevention and Care Taskforce will launch an integrated campaign in the next two months to better educate citizens.

It follows a six-month public consultation where residents were invited to give their views on how the government can help tackle the issue.

It found that majority of Singaporeans want the government to make healthy food and drink options more easily available, increase diabetes screening services at workplaces and expand fitness programmes.

"I am heartened to know that many participants recognised that health is ultimately a personal responsibility and that managing one's health is the first step to fight diabetes,"​ said Health Minister Gan Kim Yong who heads the task force during his speech at the opening of a World Diabetes Day event at Suntec convention centre on 13 November.

Mr Gan said the Health Ministry will work on these suggestions as it develops its multi-year Diabetes Action Plan, due to be unveiled in 2017, as part of its ‘War on Diabetes’.

Out of developed world countries, Singapore is behind only the United States in terms of the proportion of its residents with the lifestyle disease, reported the International Diabetes Foundation​ recently.

The report found that 10.5% of Singaporeans aged 20-79 were estimated to have diabetes, just behind 10.75% of Americans.

The findings acted at a wake-up call that has seen increased government and academic attention devoted to tackling the problem.

In May, a S$20m (US$14.7m) project was launched​ to “change diabetes’ natural course​” in the country.

Scientists at National University Singapore, say the large-scale study to examine in detail the factors that are contributing to its progression will improve the outcomes of those at risk through more targeted interventions.

Three-year assessment

The project will recruit 2,300 healthy and pre-diabetic patients for the largest study of its kind in Asia-Pacific. 

Participants will be monitored for three years to find if they develop type-2 diabetes, and assessed on how well their bodies secrete and respond to insulin in a study funded by Janssen Pharmaceuticals and Singapore’s Ministry of Health.

There is an urgent need, both at the individual and population level, to prevent illnesses associated with ageing or lifestyle. To stop and reverse this trend, improved approaches to prevent, pre-empt and treat diseases are needed​,” said study leader Sue-Anne Toh.

Meanwhile researchers at Singapore’s Clinical Nutrition Research Centre have undertaken studies​ to assess how the addition of local proteins to rice meals can affect glycemic response, while another study analysed the impact of lower calorie ramen in relation to overall daily calorie consumption.

It found that participants did not then go on to consume extra calories during the rest of the day.

And last week we reported how Singapore researchers are calling for more human trials​ to assess the role spices can play as functional ingredients to lower glycemic response.

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