Diabetes is a major public health concern. The global prevalence of diabetes is approximately 9% among adults, while annually almost 1.5 million deaths are attributed to diabetes and its complications. The WHO projects that diabetes will be 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) which results from the body’s ineffective use of insulin, a hormone that regulates blood sugar. 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, chronic kidney disease, and diabetic retinopathy. In particular, diabetic retinopathy constitutes a frequent cause of blindness among diabetic patients. The risk factors of diabetic retinopathy include the extended duration of disease, insufficient of control of blood glycemic levels, and presence of other concomitant diseases, including hypertension and hypercholesterolemia.
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. Additionally, healthy eating is a vital component for effectively managing diabetes and avoiding disease complications.
According to the International Diabetes Foundation, health awareness and access to affordable healthy food is essential for reducing the global burden of diabetes. The Prolepsis Institute contributes to the prevention of Type 2 diabetes by implementing two public health intervention programs, as well as various awareness and health promotion campaigns in schools, organizations, and the private industry.
In particular, 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 children and adolescents, adults, and women during pregnancy and lactation. The National Dietary Guidelines are freely accessible at http://www.diatrofikoiodigoi.gr.
In addition, the Prolepsis Institute’s “DIATROFI” Program for Food Aid & Promotion of Healthy Nutrition is currently implemented for the sixth consecutive year. The “DIATROFI” Program actively addresses the problem of hunger and 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, with over 12.8 million meals having been cumulatively offered to 90,000 students in approximately 530 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, activities and informative events.
The Program “DIATROFI” 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. The Program is managed under the auspices of the Ministry of Education, Research and Religious Affairs, and is primarily funded by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation.