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“40% of Portuguese have diabetes without knowing it”

Doctors call for new health strategy

Diabetes is increasing in Portugal. In the last seven years, the number of people with the disease has increased by 20%. Blame for this is put on a failing health strategy, and a growing lack socio-economic ‘possibilities’ to develop healthy eating habits.

In other words, diabetes has become an illness of the poor, which number roughly one in four citizens – as well as the uninformed (numbers almost certainly a great deal higher).

João Filipe Raposo, president of the Portuguese Society into the study of Diabetes, believes the situation has become so critical that as many as 40% of national citizens have diabetes without knowing it.

On Thursday, the national observatory on diabetes will be publishing data for the three years 2019-2021 inclusive.

Diário de Notícias says the bottom line is worrying: Portugal is in the top 3 of European countries where diabetes is prevalent. “The scientific community says something is not working: there needs to be an increase in response through consultations (the health service bugbear: consultations can take YEARS to be allocated), screenings and treatments”.

The problem with diabetes is that it opens the door to “a series of chronic illnesses, namely obesity and cardiovascular diseases”, says João Filipe Raposo, explaining it is “our lifestyles, societal models” that are to blame (…) Portugal is still at the stage where it promotes illness rather than health“, he tells Lusa. “And the result is this; these are the numbers we have”.

Portugal is also the European country with the highest number of obese children and teens. Again, down to lack of healthy diet and awareness (of what it means to eat properly).

If nothing is done to change the country’s approach to this situation, the obese youth of today will grow into adults who eventually discover they have diabetes, said the specialist.

So why exactly has the situation become so acute? According to today’s reports, diabetes screening fell by 50% during the pandemic. Just as doctors warned at the time, the blinkered focus on an illness that everyone now accepts had a ‘flu-like mortality rate’, would go on to wreak enormous collateral damage on society, and governments.

Amputations (a knock on effect of badly treated diabetes) have increased in number, as well as people suffering retinopathy, another consequence of diabetes.

Experts stress that due to failing prevention strategies, the condition is often not discovered until it has become quite advanced. The later people get their diagnosis, the harder generally it becomes to treat.

All this and diabetes CAN be avoided, even reversed, with recourse to a healthy diet with regular amounts of fresh air and exercise.


According to a pamphlet published in 2019, these are: excessive thirst, frequent urination, distorted vision, lack of energy, tingling in hands and feet, constant hunger, sudden weight loss and the slow curing of any cuts.

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