22 February 2019
People with central obesity should avoid fried food that is high in calories. Photo: Bloomberg
People with central obesity should avoid fried food that is high in calories. Photo: Bloomberg

Weight control is the first step against diabetes

Those who are aged 30 or above, with central obesity and inadequate exercise, are high-risk persons for diabetes.

Weight management is crucial for both diabetic and non-diabetic people to fight or prevent the disease.

Diabetes and overweight are highly correlated. The body mass index (BMI) could be used to help assess the risk factor.

To determine one’s BMI, divide body weight in kilograms by height in meters squared. For Asians, a value of 23 or above suggests one is overweight while a value exceeding 25 means one is obese.

People with central obesity (i.e., their waist circumference is greater than 80 centimeters for females and 90cm for males) are likely to have the three highs – high blood lipids, high blood pressure and high blood glucose levels.

They tend to have slower metabolism due to the excessive abdominal fat accumulated around the stomach and abdomen.

This could contribute to insulin resistance in body cells and higher chances of developing diabetes.

In other words, controlling weight and reducing body fat are important in lowering risks for diabetes and other chronic diseases associated with obesity.

SGLT2 inhibitors, a new drug for diabetes, could reduce blood glucose levels as well as body weight because it facilitates the removal of blood glucose through urination.

Everyone could start taking action by minding their eating habits.

The general principles for a healthy diet are consumption of “low fat” and “moderate carbohydrates” in the diet.

Controlling one’s intake of carbohydrates is usually the biggest challenge when eating out.

Rice vermicelli, for instance, is almost equivalent to two portions of rice in terms of carbohydrates and well beyond what is recommended for diabetic patients.

In order to get a more accurate estimation, the use of a small standard bowl for measurement is recommended.

Plain rice is much preferred to Hainanese chicken rice or Shanghai vegetable rice since the latter options contain much more oil.

Meat dishes that contain too much oil such as deep-fried pork cutlet and sweet and sour pork should be avoided.

Patients should strictly follow the diet recommended by their dietitian, who takes into consideration their physical conditions and their corresponding daily energy needs.

Rhoda Ng Yin-chee, a registered dietitian, is the co-author of this article, which appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Nov. 21.

Translation by Darlie Yiu with additional reporting

[Chinese version 中文版]

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