World Health Day 2016 - Diabetes

Health is a fundamental inalienable right. The World Health Day 2016 is dedicated to the prevention and management of Type 2 diabetes.

Globally, the prevalence of diabetes approximates 9% among adults, while almost 1.5 million deaths are attributed to diabetes and its complications annually. The World Health Organization anticipates that diabetes will evolve into the 7th leading cause of death by 2030.

In excess of 90% of diabetic patients have Type 2 diabetes (formerly called non-insulin-dependent or adult-onset diabetes) which results from the body’s ineffective use of insulin, a hormone that regulates blood sugar, as a result of low insulin secretion and/or insulin resistance. The primary causes of Type 2 diabetes include unhealthy dietary patterns, excessive body weight and inadequate physical activity. High blood sugar levels, also known as hyperglycemia, is a common consequence of uncontrolled diabetes and over time leads to serious damage to several organs, increasing the risk of heart disease and stroke, as well as other diabetic complications, such as peripheral neuropathy, diabetic retinopathy, and chronic kidney disease.

The onset of Type 2 diabetes can be effectively prevented or delayed with the adoption of simple lifestyle measures, including achieving and maintaining a healthy body weight, consuming a healthy diet, being physically active, and avoiding tobacco use.

The Prolepsis Institute actively contributes to the prevention of Type 2 diabetes by implementing several public health intervention programs, as well as various awareness and health promotion campaigns in schools, organizations, and the private industry. In particular, the intervention programs include the “Eu Dia…Trofin” Program and the “DIATROFI” Program for Food Aid & Promotion of Healthy Nutrition Program.

The Prolepsis Institute’s Program “Eu Dia…Trofin” is dedicated to raising widespread awareness of the National Dietary Guidelines, which are tailored for specific population groups, including: 1) the general population aged 18-65 years, 2) women during pregnancy, lactation, and menopause, and 3) infants, children, and adolescents. The overall objective of the National Dietary Guidelines is to contribute to health promotion strategies, based on the latest scientific evidence and the traditional Greek diet. The National Dietary Guidelines are freely accessible at http://www.diatrofikoiodigoi.gr .

Amongst the most important risk factors for diabetes onset and development are healthy inequalities, which primarily affect countries inflicted by economic austerity measures, such as Greece. The Prolepsis Institute’s “DIATROFI” Program for Food Aid & Promotion of Healthy Nutrition Program actively addresses the escalating problem of food insecurity among youth attending schools in underprivileged areas throughout Greece. The program includes the daily provision of healthy meals, tailored to participating students’ age-specific nutritional needs. Daily meals are distributed universally to all students attending schools participating in the Program. Cumulatively, approximately 11.5 million meals have been distributed to 80,000 students attending 480 schools nationwide. Additionally, awareness and health promotion campaigns aimed at endorsing healthy eating habits and lifestyles among both students and their families are conducted through the dissemination of educational materials.

The Program is implemented for the fifth consecutive year, and is primarily funded by The “Stavros Niarchos” Foundation. The Program is implemented in collaboration with the University of Athens School of Medicine, as well as several other Universities in Greece and the U.S.A. It is managed under the auspices of the Ministry of Education, Research and Religious Affairs. Detailed information is available at: http://diatrofi.prolepsis.gr.

Aside from the aforementioned public health intervention programs, the Prolepsis Institute is also participating in the educational program of the Onassis Cultural Center for the period 2015-2016 with an innovative workshop which combines nutrition with the arts. The educational program “Musical notes eat properly” was designed in collaboration with the Onassis Cultural Center and aims at familiarizing children with healthy eating, motivating them to improve their dietary choices and physical activity levels. Detailed information is available at http://www.sgt.gr/gre/SPG1333/.