The Rapid Rise of Chronic Diseases

Many news articles have been written recently on the increase in the prevalence in chronic diseases across the globe.  Rapid economic development is seen as one possible cause of the swift spread of chronic diseases in the developing world.

Let’s take the increase in the prevalence of Diabetes Type II for example. China has nearly 250 million and India has about 50 million people with Diabetes and prediabetes.  It is estimated that by 2030, 366 million or 6% or the world’s population will have Diabetes. This condition has two different modes of contraction, one for the wealthy, mainly being obesity resulting from over-nutrition, and another for the poor via changes in the amount of exercise and diet that once consisted mainly of vegetables but now has switched to foods that are high in sugar, salt and fat.    The change of diet is a direct result of the increase in the numbers of people moving from villages to cities in search of work.  A study found that the influence of urbanization and change of living habits have a greater influence than genetic predisposition for  determining whether a person develops Diabetes Type II, these migrants were twice more likely to have hypertension and to have higher blood sugar than villagers.


While many chronic diseases that  stem from being obese may be preventable, prevention is not as simple as forcing people to increase their daily amount of exercise, quit smoking, and make healthier choices in the types of food that are eaten.  Right now, only 0.9 percent of the $22 billion in international aid for health is allocated to chronic disease.  I think that this figure should not be too shocking to those who read it because the wealthy nations providing the international aid have not been able to find a solution that works for their own citizens so how can they be expected to fund solutions that do not yet exist?

Some scientists are searching for more clues on the link between the effect of genetics and environment on chronic diseases in an effort to gather enough information to improve disease prevention protocols.  Others  would argue that these changes would take more that one’s sense of personal responsibility because sometimes the only accessible foods contain sugar, salt and fat in the right proportions to make them addictive and that switching to a more healthy diet would trigger withdrawal symptoms that would deter the individual from making these changes permanent.  This makes me wonder whether if New York State’s attempt to tax its residents in an effort to promote healthier alternative would be successful.

Here’s some food for thought:

After all the research has been done, will these addictive foods would still be readily available or would they simply coexist side by side with the healthier options.  Is it possible for this coexistence to exist?

  1. aml Reply

    A seminar about Social Services and its role in dealing with Chronic Diseases was recently held at King Abdulaziz Medical City in Riyadh under the title “Social Services and Dealing with Chronic Diseases.

    • Wilnise Jasmin Reply

      Thank you for your post,
      I am glad that you shared this information with our readers. It highlights the point that one’s living environment plays a significant role in various health outcomes and that the collaborative effort to find solutions to reversing these trends we see should also include social services and educators, not just the medical and law-making areas of society.
      For those who would like to read more about this conference mentioned above, I have included the link to it’s webpage: http://www.ngha.med.sa/English/MediaCenter/News/Pages/2009-01-21_01.aspx

  2. Wilnise Jasmin Reply

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