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KARACHI: Poor eating habits of Pakistanis, especially excessive use of rice along with carbonated drinks, is the leading cause of diabetes in the country where around 26 percent of the adult population is suffering from the lifestyle disease, experts said on Wednesday.

"There is an immediate need for reinvention of Pakistani cuisine. Everything we are eating should be avoided, especially rice in the form of Biryani, soft drinks and the so-called fast food. The only recreation in Pakistan is eating in abundance, which is making us a diseased nation," Professor Emeritus Tasnim Ahsan said while speaking at the launching ceremony of "Discovering Diabetes", a project aimed at finding out undiagnosed patients of diabetes in Pakistan.

The Discovering Diabetes project is a joint-venture of Pakistan Endocrine Society (PES) and a local pharmaceutical firm, PharmEvo, under which a helpline has been established to help people know their status of diabetes and get consultation with leading diabetologists of the country. The launching ceremony of the discovering diabetes project was addressed by other renowned health experts including eminent diabetologist Prof. Zaman Shaikh, president-elect of the Pakistan Endocrine Society (PES), Prof. Abrar Ahmed and Prof. Javed Iqbal.

Prof. Tasnim Ahsan maintained that Pakistan is facing an epidemic of diabetes where millions of adult Pakistanis are now living with diabetes and added that type 2 diabetes is an obesity-driven disease, which is now a global problem.

Lack of physical activities in addition to excessive food intake and marrying in the families are some other causes of diabetes, she added.

According to Prof. Tasnim Ahsan, over 50 percent of the people living with diabetes don't know of their health status, and they only come to know about their disease when their eyes, kidneys, heart and brain suffer irreparable damage. She urged people to get advantage of the Discovering Diabetes helpline to know their health status and start taking preventive measures if they are not diabetics.

Another renowned diabetologist, Prof. Zaman Shaikh, said diabetes is a silent killer, which is killing hundreds of thousands of people in Pakistan annually, but, unfortunately, majority of people are unaware of their disease and consider it as an unimportant health issue.

"When people come to us after living with diabetes for several years, several of their vital organs have already faced irreversible damage. Diabetes causes permanent damage to eyes, kidneys, cause heart attacks and large, fatal strokes," Prof. Zaman Shaikh said and urged people to take measures to prevent themselves from contracting diabetes.

PharmEvo chief executive officer Syed Jamshed Ahmed said they have launched the project of Discovering Diabetes in collaboration with the Pakistan Endocrine Society (PES) as a community service and to help millions of people who are living with this disease but are unaware of their health status due to lack of education and risk factors that cause diabetes.

Prof. Javed Iqbal, anchor Wasim Badami and artist Wasim Abbas said unawareness and lack of information nowadays is a sin, especially in terms of health as diseases like diabetes are causing irreversible damage to people silently.

PharmEvo managing director Haroon Qasim called for making diabetes awareness a part of curricula of schools in Pakistan, saying in a country with 26 percent of people living with diabetes, every child should know what they should eat and how to live a healthy life to prevent themselves from contracting diabetes, blood pressure and other lifestyle diseases.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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