21) On World Diabetes Day
ICRISAT and AVRDC promote agriculture and nutrition research to fight diabetes (15 November 2011 )

Hyderabad, India, 15 November 2011 To promote ways to prevent, treat, and control complications arising from diabetes, over 1200 employees from the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) and the Asian Vegetable Research and Development Center (AVRDC) World Vegetable Center took part in the annual Global Diabetes Walk at the ICRISAT campus in Patancheru yesterday, 14 November. The walk was led by ICRISAT Director General William Dar and AVRDC Director General Dyno Keatinge. AVRDC is based in Shanhua, Taiwan ROC with its South Asia Office hosted by ICRISAT.

Addressing the gathering, Dr Dar said, “Unless we are healthy and maintain the right balance between work and lifestyle by exercising regularly and eating nutritious food, there is a danger of diabetes catching up with us.”

To mark this day, a series of activities were held on the campus, ranging from a free blood sugar and diabetic retinopathy screening camp to a health awareness talk on the Role of diet in diabetes by Dyno Keatinge. Dr Keatinge’s talk was about the importance of vegetables like bitter gourd in reducing blood sugar levels and food-based solutions to managing the disease.

What we eat begins with what farmers can grow, and what they grow is shaped fundamentally by agricultural research. “Diabetes care is costing billions and billions of dollars each year, yet almost nothing is being spent to combat the problem from the standpoint of agriculture. It is a tragedy that agriculture and nutrition research have been viewed as two separate compartments; but at last they are now coming together,” said Dr Keatinge. He added that centers like ICRISAT and AVRDC working on legumes, fruits and vegetables need support to find solutions to overcome diabetes.

Also speaking on the occasion, Dr CN Reddy, Head-Medical Services, ICRISAT, reiterated that diabetes being a self-imposed disease, individuals must maintain an ideal body weight and an active lifestyle to prevent Type 2 diabetes.

Today, 285 million people in the world live with diabetes, and 80% of those are in low- and middle-income countries. By 2030, about 4.5% (more than 370 million) of the world’s population will suffer from Type 2 diabetes. India has near 51 million diabetic cases and a projected 79.4 million by 2030. The diabetes epidemic in sub-Saharan Africa is one of the fastest growing in the world, increasing 2.6 fold in 30 years.  

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