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People should avoid eating too much starch to prevent obesity — a condition that can lead to diabetes, a public health expert says.

Zimbabwe Diabetic Association president Dr John Mangwiro told participants at a diabetes seminar recently that eating healthy foods was key in the fight against diabetes.

“Healthy diets are particularly effective in lowering blood sugar,” he said.

“Our main problem is that our diet has become too starchy. With rapid urbanisation and westernisation of our dishes, many people are no longer eating our traditional dishes.”

Traditional diets are rich in fibres and micro-nutrients which can help curb diabetes. The seminar aimed to train health professionals on detection of foot diabetes through screening and appropriate management at Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals.

Dr Mangwiro said the maize staple food crop which was one of the main sources of starch was the main cause of obesity including fizzy drinks and fruit juices.

He urged people to eat more vegetables to avoid getting obese, a condition that could leave them vulnerable to diabetes.

“We eat very little of vegetables and we concentrate on starches,” he said.

“It is common for people mix potatoes, sadza and butternut in one dish. Some even add rice and spaghetti on top of it, this is very dangerous.”

“If we really have a proper nutrition where we have balanced diet everyday like half a plate vegetables, two pieces of meat and almost a feast size of starch it will be helpful,” said Dr Mangwiro.

A 2005 health survey showed that 10 percent of the population suffered from diabetes in Zimbabwe.

Worldwide, more than 382 million suffer from the disease according to a 2013 International Diabetes Federation report.

The Federation predicts that the figure will increase to 592 million by 2035. Health experts say diabetes brings a host of complications including heart attack, stroke, kidney failure, nerve damage, poor blood circulation, hearing loss, and erectile dysfunction among other problems.

They say diabetes is classified as either Type 1 or Type 2. With Type 1, the body fails to produce the insulin necessary to convert sugar and starches to energy, while Type 2 diabetics do not use the insulin they produce efficiently.

Source : The Herald