Health they say is wealth. This statement is responsible for the importance of well-being to the individual in question and the development of a society at large. Health communication is becoming an area all over the world that cannot be neglected.
The numerous problems related to health issues have been fully identified, mostly with developing countries, ranging from the continent of Asia, and Sub-Sahara Africa. The high rate of diabetes that exists in Nigeria will also raise the rate of obesity in those affected.
This study examined the awareness trend of diabetes and its associated lifestyle against the backdrop of increase in the rate of the disease. The rate of increase in diabetes in Africa was predicted to witness a rise from 10m to 20m by 2015.
Using survey method, 50 respondents were interrogated. The study revealed that media information are not sufficient in few cases and are not available in most cases on diabetes; and has no relationship with a healthy lifestyle. Also, respondents believe bad diet lifestyle is not a determinant for diabetes, which is hereditary.
As observed by Airhihenbuwa (2012, p. 629), “twelve years ago, HIV and AIDS was the major health issue that preoccupied domestic and global policy makers. Today, HIV and AIDS remain a major health concern (Oyero & Salawu, 2014). However, obesity as a new global pandemic is non-communicable.
He further noted that, “Obesity alone does not explain many cases of diabetes and high blood pressure in Senegal. This, he said, in the proceedings in Nigeria, and many other countries. In these countries, normal weight individuals have high rates of these lifestyle-related chronic conditions but without evidence of the modifiable risk factor considered to be the key solution in the United States and European countries.” (Airhihenbuwa 2012,). Dupas (2011 p.1) affirms that although diseases such as malaria, dengue fever and schistosomiasis; waterborne diseases, due to unclean drinking water; respiratory diseases, due to indoor air pollution from cooking and heating with solid fuels; and HIV/AIDS, but diabetes and cancer are common to all countries.
These two chronic diseases are said to have increase and likely to increase across the world as time goes on. According to the International diabetes foundation, diabetes affects 285 million people worldwide and could increase to 438 million people by 2030.
Diabetes is a “chronic, metabolic disease characterised by elevated levels of blood glucose (or blood sugar), which leads over time to serious damage to the heart, blood vessels, eyes, kidneys, and nerves.” (WHO, 2015) It is said to occur when a person does not produce enough insulin. These forms of excess sugar is said to cause the disease. Diabetes can also be caused as a result of frequent intake of sugar-sweetened beverages such as sweet tea, energy drinks, fruit bunch, regular soda, sugary drinks etc.
These consumables can raise the blood glucose and increase calories in the body which could leads to diabetes. Willett, Koplan, Nugent, Dusenbury, Puska and Gaziano (n.d p.834) stress that “In recent years, researchers have recognized the insulin resistance syndrome (also known as the metabolic syndrome) as a common contributing factor to the development of diabetes, CAD, and some cancers.
The syndrome is characterized by increased waist circumference, low HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol, and high levels of triglycerides, hypertension, and glucose intolerance. The most direct causes are overweight and inactivity, but dietary factors contribute. A patient in this state therefore is at risk of having high blood pressure which could lead to heart attack.
Also this could further lead to high blood glucose that damages nerves and blood vessels, leading to complications such as heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, blindness, dental disease, and amputations. Other complications of diabetes may include increased susceptibility to other diseases, loss of mobility with aging, depression, and pregnancy problems. (National Institution of diabetes and digestion and kidney diseases, 2015). From research, it is known that factors such as environmental factors, hereditary are factors that can facilitate the effect of diabetes.
These factors are mostly common with type 1 diabetes. Diabetes consists of three types namely, type 1 diabetes, and type 2 diabetes and gestational diabetes which develops only during pregnancy. “As new lifestyles, imported dietary practices, and globalization take roots in the developing world, as Africa is, today, diabetes and its complications are considered an epidemic in Africa, compelling African governments to start paying more attention to its impact as thousands of Africans run the risk of dying young.” (Mario Azevedo and SrideviAlla 2008)
Health organisation, such as United Nations Children’s Fund, and other NGOs, International journal of diabetes in developing countries have continued to seek diverse ways to curb the problem of diabetes increase in Nigeria and other sub-Sahara countries. However, The World Health Organisation (2009) reports that “there are 1.71 million people living with diabetes in Nigeria and this figure is projected to reach 4.84 million by 2030. Current prevalence rate estimates of diabetes in Nigeria have been tagged at 2.5 percent compared to its 2.2 percent rate in 2003
Research revealed that the awareness of the danger posed by diabetes is not generally created in the mass media. This is because many people are not aware of how diabetes could be prevented. However, it was observed that people are aware of the concept and its meaning but limited in their information of the serious danger posed by the disease. On the other hand, most respondents think that the issue of diabetes is more hereditary and really has no form of connection with the lifestyle of people.
Consequently, it becomes unnecessary for majority of the respondents to believe that unhealthy lifestyle can result in a person being diabetic. most of these Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in which diabetes is one of them are caused as a result of “unhealthy eating patterns have been increasing around the world as patterns of eating have also changed, with an increase in snacking, skipping meals, eating meals out of a family setting, and eating out of the home”
To further verify the claim stated above, research has been carried out by several health organisations especially those concerned with diabetes issues. According to a research carried out by Hu, (2011) with the support of the American Diabetes Association which includes Epidemiologic studies and randomized clinical trials, “type 2 diabetes is largely preventable through diet and lifestyle modifications.” Hu (2011 p.1249) further stresses that “translating these findings into practise requires fundamental changes in public policies, the food and built environments, and health systems.” To curb the escalating diabetes epidemic, primary prevention through promotion of a healthy diet and lifestyle should be a global public policy priority.”
It has been discovered that the quality of fats and carbohydrates play an important role in the development of diabetes, it is therefore necessary for some basic changes in our lifestyle as Nigerians. According to Chew, Palmer, Slonska and Subbiah (2002, p.180) “Key lifestyle risk factors included a poor diet, alcohol consumption, tobacco use, and lack of physical exercise.
Concurrently, these organizations have proposed dietary and other lifestyle medications to the general public and in some cases to subgroups of the population at high risk, to lower their risk of chronic diseases such as cancer, coronary heart disease (CHD), non-insulin dependent diabetes, hypertension, and obesity, among others.”
It is also important to educate the young generation to imbibe the culture of eating healthy especially with the growing culture of modernisation that seems to encourage the habit of consuming drinks and alcohol and also eating out.
Experts points out that to prevent this chronic disease, there should be specific changes in diet and lifestyle such as avoid tobacco use, maintaining a healthy weight, maintaining daily physical activity and limit Television watching and eat a healthy diet. Martin (2015 p.5-6) also affirms that “Diabetes is a chronic illness requiring on-going monitoring by providers and patients. It has been observed from this research that since our lifestyle could be a contributing factor, and then it is essential for proper information with the public to reduce the risk of diabetes in Nigeria. There is therefore need to educate Nigerians through effective communication. These various ways are stated below.
The problem of diabetes is mostly noticeable at old age. This is why it is important for this education to start from the young generation. According to Mesch (n.d), the technological deterministic view presents the internet as an innovative force that has profound influence on children and youth; technology generates new patterns of expression, communication, and motivation” as avid users. They therefore use a lot of gadgets for surfing the internet, accessing social network sites, gaming and the likes. Presently, there are applications that help motivate people to stay healthy. Some of them are fitnet, argus, swortkit, MapMyFitness, etc. These applications can be introduced to these gadgets by the sellers. This will ensure easy access to the public. Once readily installed on the gadgets before distribution to the customers, young people can have access and begin to understand the importance to stay healthy.
- A healthy lifestyle could reduce the risk of diabetes. Medical practitioners can engage in organising seminars and workshops to serve as a platform in education the public about the risk of the disease.
- Edutainment programmes have been a powerful tool that has proven to effect change especially in health issues. Short edutainment programme can be used to educate people about the disease and the need to live a healthy lifestyle to reduce the risk. Visuals are powerful and have been proven to effect change in man.
- Local government and village heads such as chiefs have been known to have great influence on the people in their community. They can be used as a medium of communication to educate people on diabetes.
- The mass media has always been an effective tool for effecting change. More programmes productions should focus on health issues and ensuring a healthy lifestyle in Nigeria. Having highlighted all these recommendations, it is necessary to find out factors preventing Nigerians from living a healthy life. In implementing all these recommendations, the factors militating against the need for a healthy life to prevent the risk of diabetes in Nigeria should be addressed in the process of these campaigns through communication. This is to ensure that the campaign becomes effective and feasible in terms of implementation.