Cut the myth, diabetes is not for ‘fat’ people alone

Immaculate Keza, 33, a vendor at Kimironko market, has lived a free life. The thought of suffering from diabetes had never crossed her mind.

Immaculate Keza, 33, a vendor at Kimironko market, has lived a free life. The thought of suffering from diabetes had never crossed her mind.

But during the World NCDs Day, she decided to queue up and have the free medical test.

“This was after have strange signs which I could not understand, like urinating frequently, my heart beat increased and I was always weak,” she says.


The results returned positive for diabetes.

“I have started taking medications and now I am in bad state, I can still work freely although I am worried,” she added.

Keza is not ‘fat’. And even if her body size was ‘big’, at least, tests show her body mass index does not indicate she is over weight.

Warning to people

Rwanda Diabetes Association has warned that there is increased contraction of diabetes among the youth, especially those below 25 years of age.

Francois Gishoma, the president of the association, has called on the public, particularly the youth, to embrace testing, saying this would easily help in the fight of the disease.

Diabetes is a condition in which the body either does not produce enough, or does not properly respond to insulin, a hormone produced in the pancreas.

“The disease is on the rise among the young generation; and our association has 760 youth who are diabetic with the figure expected to rise as we continue with the survey,” Gishoma said.

He said diabetic cases have drastically increased from the only three cases of diabetes in 2003.

Gishoma said diabetes increases other health risks such as cardiovascular disease, retinopathy, renal failure, and peripheral vascular disease, and impotence.

Whereas the common belief is that diabetes is a sugar disease that affects only ‘fat’ people, Gishoma said that is a myth because diabetes is a diet disease that can affect anyone regardless of their body mass index.

Diabetic people who get disabled may find it difficult to perform usual activities such as eating, bathing, among others.

Gishoma added that figures from the Diabetes Atlas, a global body that provides periodic statistics on the disease, show that 2 per cent of Rwandans are suffering from diabetes.

Most of the youth suffering from diabetes were born with it while others are diabetic because of their lifestyles including eating junk food.

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