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Diabetes, lifestyle and the Law.

Diabetes is a chronic noncommunicable disease with two types; Type 1 which is caused when the pancreas produces little or no insulin and on the other hand type 2 which affects the way the body processes blood sugar (glucose). Diabetes have become a global heath challenge over the years and as of 2019 diabetes was found to be the direct cause of 1.5 million deaths with majority of these being in low and middle income countries. In Uganda, the average age of diabetic patients is 35 years. The prevalence of type 2 diabetes in Uganda is at 3.0 amongst women and 2.7 amongst men.

One of diabetes’ major risk factors is consumption of unhealthy diets including food high in sugar, salt and fats. The unhealthy food environment on the market has put many Ugandans at risk of excessively consuming unhealthy foods which causes diabetes and other Non-communicable diseases.

An individual should eat healthy foods, avoid smoking and alcohol, exercise and have a healthy lifestyle. Avoid daily routines that affect the usage of blood sugars in the body.

The government has a legal obligation to protect, promote and fulfill the right to health of its citizens; this right is recognized both under the Constitution and under binding international law. The obligation to protect the right to health in the specific context of unhealthy diets, requires the government to regulate activities of non-State actors, such as the food and beverage industries, to ensure they convey accurate, easily understandable, transparent and comprehensible information on their products. Another obligation is to fulfill the right to health and in the context of unhealthy diets, this can be done through adopting appropriate measures towards the full realization of the right to health through disseminating appropriate information relating to healthy life and nutrition patterns, encouraging and supporting people in making informed choices about their health.

These obligations can be attained where the government enacts laws for proper nutrition labelling. For nutrition labelling to be effective, consumers must be aware of, and recognize, the nutrition labels’ symbol (or symbols), understand what the symbol means so as to enable them make informed food purchases and healthier eating choices.

We call upon the government and all stakeholders in the food and nutrition industry to work together and ensure that strict laws and standards on nutrition labelling are enacted. This will enable consumers to make healthy food choices and therefore limit the cases of diabetes in Uganda.