Type 2 diabetes, experts warn, could become a global pandemic if steps are not taken to avoid the risk factors that lead to the onset of this disease.

Specialists gathered in Madrid to celebrate the '7th World Congress on the Prevention of Diabetes and its Complications' (11 to 14 November 2012), have warned that it is essential to implement prevention strategies against diabetes because, according to estimates of the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), there are currently 366 million diabetic people worldwide, and half of them have not yet been diagnosed. They also point out that in 2030 this figure will increase to 550 million affected, a number of patients that will increase health costs to practically unaffordable levels.

A diet based on the Mediterranean diet for five years reduces the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 52%

In 90% of the cases it is about type 2 diabetes, a disease that can be prevented with changes in lifestyle, especially in relation to diet and exercise. Thus, according to the conclusions of the European program DE_PLAN, which are presented at the congress, the recommendations to change certain dietary habits and increase physical activity, which can be done from the Primary Care field, manage to decrease more than 30% the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

In Spain, the project consisted of talks given at health centers, with reminders and periodic checks. It was intended that attendees maintain an appropriate weight, that their fat intake was less than 30% of the energy consumption in the daily diet, with an amount of saturated fat less than 10% of the total and a fiber intake greater than 15 g / 1000 Kcal, in addition to exercising regularly, which is equivalent to at least 30 minutes a day.

Only in Catalonia, a 36.5% decrease in the risk of developing type 2 diabetes was observed when adopting these measures. In addition, a Spanish study, whose conclusions were published in 'Diabetes Care' last year, revealed that the risk is further reduced when the Mediterranean diet is followed, since simply feeding on this type of diet for five years the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes decreases by 52%.

And as explained by the coordinator of this study, Dr. Jordi Salas, of the Pere Virgili Health Research Institute of the Rovira i Virgili University (Reus, Tarragona), an excessive consumption of certain processed foods, as well as red meat and drinks sugar, increases the risk of type 2 diabetes, while the intake of typical foods of the Mediterranean diet such as legumes, whole grains, fruits and vegetables, olive oil, fish, nuts and coffee, reduce the risk.

Type 2 diabetes: A Global Pandemic (November 2019).