What makes you aware?

The Burj Al Arab turned blue for diabetesThe Burj Al Arab turned blue for diabetesThe Burj Al Arab turned blue for diabetes

Recently in the UAE there have been a number of diabetes awareness initiatives, mostly launching around World Diabetes Day on November 14. Many landmarks, such as the Burj Al Arab, have agreed to light up in blue to mark the occasion and to grab people’s attention. Other initiatives include Ibn Battuta Mall’s awareness month, where shoppers can stop by the diabetes booth and get a quick blood sugar test. Or there is the recent walk-a-thon in Abu Dhabi that was organized by the Imperial College London Diabetes Centre, where thousands turned up to walk in support of those living with diabetes.

 While all of these initiatives help to turn people’s thoughts towards the disease and it’s impact on our family, friends and society as a whole, I wonder how much it is actually affecting people to make positive lifestyle changes. Often, I find these sorts of awareness campaigns to be flashes in the pan. By that I mean everyone tunes in, jumps on the band wagon, makes a little noise and then goes back to their normal routines. Very few people actively discuss the issues and how it affects them or sits and thinks about what diabetes is and does to the body. They simply drive by a blue building while eating a cheeseburger and think, ‘that’s for diabetes.’ But do they know what diabetes is? How it slowly starves your body? That once you get diabetes it will be with you forever? That nearly one out of every two of their friends either has it or will have it in 10 years? I doubt it. Not to say it isn’t great to support the cause and help spread awareness in any way possible, but people need to be engaged on a personal level, educated about facts, and to actively talk about it with family, friends and work colleagues.

That’s why I feel so strongly about the Inspired by Diabetes campaign. It is very different. It is more of a grassroots initiative that forces people to think about how their lives are affected by the disease. It gets kids asking questions to parents and teachers. It lets people express their feelings about the disease in a creative, personal way which can then be used to educate others.

So what would help make you aware?


Nightline Podcast

Here is the link to the podcast from Dubai Eye’s Nightline with James Piecowye. If you missed the show, take a listen. This is important information that you need to know about managing and preventing diabetes.

10 Misconceptions about Diabetes

10 Misconceptions about Diabetes 

1. Diabetes is not a killer disease. False!

In fact, diabetes is a global killer, rivaling HIV/AIDS in its deadly reach. The disease kills some 3.8 million people a year. Every 1 0 seconds a person dies from diabetes-related causes. 

2. Diabetes only affects rich countries. False!

Diabetes hits all populations, regardless of income. It is becoming increasingly common. More than 240 million people worldwide now have diabetes. This will grow to more than 380 million by 2025. In many countries in Asia, the Middle East, Oceania and the Caribbean, diabetes affects 12 -20% of the population. In 2025, 80% of all cases of diabetes will be in low -and middle-income countries. 

3. Diabetes is heavily funded globally. F alse!

Official Overseas Development Aid to the health sector in 2002 reached USD 2.9 billion, of which a mere 0.1% went to fund AL L non-communicable chronic diseases (N C Ds). Most of the U SD 2 .9 billion went to support HIV/AIDS. Despite diabetes having a deadly global impact comparable to HIV/AIDS, it had to share the tiny 0.1% of the total NCD funding. In addition, the World Bank gave USD 4 .2 billion in loans for health, population and nutrition between 1997 and 2002. Only 2.5% of the USD 4.2 billion went to chronic diseases. 

4. Diabetes c are is not costly. False!

Diabetes care is costly and has the potential to cripple any healthcare system. The economic opportunities that the United Nations w ants to create for developing countries through the Millennium Development Goals will be greatly undermined by the economic impact of diabetes in low – and middle-income countries. 

5. Diabetes only affects old people. False!

In reality, diabetes affects all age groups. Currently, an estimated 2 4 6 million people between the ages of 2 0 and 7 9 w ill have diabetes. In developing countries diabetes affects at least 80 million people between ages 40 -59.

 6. Diabetes predominantly affects men. False!

In fact, diabetes is rising in both men and women, and affects slightly more women than men. It is also increasing dramatically among youth and threatening to decimate indigenous populations. 

7. Diabetes is the result of unhealthy lifestyles. False!

The reality is that the poor and children have limited choices when it comes to living conditions, diet and education. 

8. Diabetes cannot be prevented. False!

While it is true that type 1 diabetes is not preventable, up to 80% of type 2 diabetes is preventable by a healthy diet, increasing physical activity and promoting a healthy lifestyle. 

9. Diabetes prevention is too ex pensive. False!

Many inexpensive and cost-effective interventions exist. Proven strategies for improving the living environment, changing diet and increasing physical activity can reverse the pandemic. 

10. We all have to die of something. True but…

Death is of course inevitable but it does not need to be slow, painful or premature. Diabetes causes 3.8 million deaths globally. With awareness, prevention and appropriate care, many of these deaths can be prevented. 


The idea for ‘10 misconceptions about diabetes’ is based on the World Health Organization’s global report: “Preventing chronic diseases: a vital investment”, which presents 10 common misunderstandings about chronic diseases. The data comes from various sources, including:Roglic G et al: The Burden of Mortality Attributable to Diabetes: Realistic estimates for the year 2000. Diabetes Care 28: 2130-2135. The Diabetes Atlas 3rd Edition, International Diabetes Federation, 2006. Yach D et al: The global burden of chronic diseases. JAMA 2004 

Tonight on Nightline with James Piecowye

Tonight James Piecowye will be speaking with one of the UAE’s most respected diabetes specialists, Dr. Amel B El Tayeb, Director of the Diabetes & Endocrine Center at Dubai Healthcare City and formerly of Hammersmith Hospital UK & Dubai Hospital. Dr. Tayeb, whose research interests include diabetes, cholesterol & heart disease, obesity, thyroid disorders & osteoporosis will answer caller questions about diabetes and specifically, the cultural and environmental factors that make this region one of the worst in the world for cases of the disease.

Tune into Dubai Eye 103.8 tonight, November 27 between 8 and 10 p.m. and join in the discussion.

Inspiration comes from where you least expect it!

IBD logo

Welcome to the Inspired by Diabetes blog for the Middle East. This is meant to be a meeting point for everyone who is affected by this disease or interested in knowing more about it. Here you are welcome to post pics and artwork that you plan on submitting to the competition. For full rules and regulations, visit http://www.inspiredbydiabetes-me.com/. It’s a great initiative to raise awareness of a really important issue that’s affecting this region heavily. So discuss, post, and have fun!