Definition and Prevalence
Diabetes is a condition where patients have trouble absorbing, using and storing glucose. It is a progressive condition which can entail serious complications in the long term, such as coronary thrombosis, vision problems, blindness, stroke, neuropathy, amputation, kidney disease etc.
In a healthy person, blood sugar levels can increase slightly and then go back to normal as the body converts the glucose into energy or stores it for later. In a diabetic, the system doesn’t work, either because it has been overloaded (Type 2 diabetes) or, more rarely, due to a hereditary deficiency (Type 1 diabetes).
The prevalence of type 2 diabetes has increased in the past ten years in France, due to the increase in the number of people overweight or obese. Too little exercise and an imbalanced diet (lacking in fruit, vegetables, starchy foods and calcium) and too high in energy (carbohydrates and fats).
The overall prevalence of diabetes in France was estimated at 4.6% in 2011, 90% of which are type 2 diabetes. However, this figure is largely underestimated as it does not account for people who are not treated or have not been diagnosed. Given the lack of symptoms, some 20% of diabetics aged between 18 and 74 are not diagnosed.
The condition is becoming increasingly common: a rise of 5.4% per year was recorded between 2000 and 2011. The national health programme introduced by the government in 2001 aims to improve carbohydrate intake. Complex carboyhdrates should provide over half of the daily energy intake, which should also be more fibre-rich.
Current consumption levels of simple carbohydrates such as those in sugary drinks, sweets, creamy desserts, biscuits, pastries and chocolate should be reduced by 25%.
These products do not need to be totally banished, but should be replaced by healthier alternatives such as fruit and water. Frequent consumption of sugary drinks and foods also increases the risk of tooth decay and gum disease.