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Slight increase in diabetes rates despite five-year fight to combat it

Singapore's five-year war against diabetes has not made a dent in reducing its rate here, with the crude prevalence of the disease showing a slight increase in 2019-2020.

In that period, the crude prevalence of diabetes was 9.5 per cent, an increase from 8.8 per cent in 2017. A stable trend was seen after an age adjustment was made.

These statistics were released yesterday in a report of the latest National Population Health Survey, which was carried out between July 2019 and March last year. It comprised interviews with around 6,000 people as well as health examinations of 5,000 people.

The report also showed that chronic diseases continue to be a concern in Singapore.

The prevalence of hypertension, or high blood pressure, showed an increasing trend over the years, even after adjusting for the possible effect of an ageing population.

In 2019-2020, more than one in three (35.5 per cent) had hypertension, and about four in 10 (39.1 per cent) had high blood cholesterol, compared with about one in four (24.2 per cent) and slightly more than one in three (35.5 per cent), respectively, in 2017.

More people also became obese or had a high-risk body mass index (BMI), and fewer engaged in sufficient total physical activity.

More than one in 10 Singapore residents were found to be obese, and more than two in 10 had high-risk BMI. This was a slight increase from 2017.

Fewer Singapore residents engaged in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity a week last year, compared with 2017, despite the increase in the number of residents engaging in leisure-time regular exercise last year.

Leisure-time regular exercise refers to participation in any sport or exercise for at least 20 minutes each time, at least three days a week.

The Health Promotion Board encourages Singaporeans to aim for 150 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity every week.

The study also noted that there was a slight drop in chronic disease screening rates, even as more people were screened for colorectal cancer and breast cancer.

Last year, 63 per cent of Singapore residents aged 40 to 74 with no previous diagnosis of diabetes, high blood pressure or high blood cholesterol were screened for all three conditions within the recommended frequency.

This was a slight decrease from 66.4 per cent in 2017.

Conversely, screening rates for colorectal cancer rose last year (41.1 per cent), compared with 2017 (35 per cent).

Similarly, screening rates for breast cancer went up last year, while screening rates for cervical cancer remained stable.

MEDICAL & HEALTH