Find out more about pre-diabetes, diabetes and how you can prevent them by making some changes to your lifestyle.
Smitha’s dad had type 2 diabetes and she was diagnosed with pre-diabetes. Find out what contributed to her success and how she and her daughter bonded while they BEAT diabetes together.
Last year, during a routine health screening, Smitha was diagnosed with borderline pre-diabetes. She took immediate action to reverse her condition. Smitha started a food log to be mindful of her diet. She knew she had to cut down on refined carbohydrates and added sugar. Today, as she continues inspiring her family to eat healthily together, her daughter, Aditi, also creates healthy and tasty recipes that they all enjoy.
To take control of your health like Smitha did, start by ensuring you assess your risk of developing diabetes by taking the 2-minute
Diabetes Risk Assessment*! With early detection, you can turn your life around too.
*The Diabetes Risk Assessment is developed for those between 18-39 years old. If you are 40 years old and above, please see your doctor for a health screening (including pre-diabetes).
If you have diabetes, please consult your doctor/dietician before making any dietary changes.
To read Smitha’s full story in Tamil, click
At only 24, Nizam was surprised when he found out that he had diabetes. He took his condition lightly, until his sight and kidney began to fail. Today, Nizam is inspiring youths to BEAT diabetes.
Like many Singaporeans, Nizam thought he would never develop diabetes, especially not when he was merely 24 years old.
In 1996, he was diagnosed with diabetes but took his condition lightly until he had to deal with losing his sight and kidney failure.
His understanding was gathered from what little he heard: diabetes was caused by consuming too much sweet drinks and sometimes could result in the amputation of one’s legs. Why and how was not something he bothered to find out.
However, when he had to deal with the severe complications of the disease, he realised he had to be more proactive in learning about the disease and how to manage it. In 2010, he was diagnosed with glaucoma and had to undergo two operations for his eyes. That episode was subsequently followed by his kidneys failing and the beginning of painful but necessary weekly dialysis.
Nizam’s story is not the first of its kind – an increasing number of Singaporeans are affected by diabetes and are at risk of developing serious complications if they do not actively manage their condition. 2 out of 3 cases of kidney failures are caused by diabetes and almost half of the Singaporeans with diabetes are unaware of their own condition, which means they are not receiving the necessary treatment.
Because of his own harrowing experience, Nizam, who is now 47, decided to volunteer as an Outreach Officer with the National Kidney Foundation. In his free time, he makes an effort to go to as many schools as he can to share his story as a diabetic and renal patient.
Through his sharing, he wants to bust the misconception that sugar is the only cause of diabetes. While sugar can be harmful, poor dietary habits and the lack of physical activity can also lead to obesity and increase one’s risk of developing diabetes.
Nizam also firmly believes in sharing information about pre-diabetes. Pre-diabetes is a condition where one’s blood sugar level is higher than normal, but not at a point where it is high enough to be diagnosed as Type 2 diabetes. It is a warning sign of diabetes and a condition that can be reversed with appropriate lifestyle interventions such as regular exercise and a healthy diet.
Nizam is passionate about sharing the knowledge that pre-diabetes is an opportunity to make positive changes to reverse the condition and deter otherwise serious complications. He has no doubt that the more people know about this, the more they are empowered to pick up healthier habits or change their current lifestyles.
Take control of your health now. Start by finding out your risk of developing diabetes with the 2-minute online
Diabetes Risk Assessment*. With early detection, you can turn your life around.
Diabetes can affect anyone, but early detection CAN make a difference. Take the Diabetes Risk Assessment (DRA) now—it takes only 2 minutes of your time to know your risk.
Take 2 Minutes To Check Your Risk
The DRA is developed for those between 18 to 39 years old. If you are 40 years and older, go for regular screening every three years at your regular GP clinic or screening events held in the community. You can visit
screenforlife.gov.sg for more information on screening subsidies.
Diabetes can damage both your nerves and blood vessels and lead to kidney, eye, foot, heart diseases and stroke. Detect early with Screen for Life.
Pre-diabetes describes a condition in which blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be considered Type 2 diabetes. In other words, it is the precursor to Type 2 diabetes. The good news is studies have shown that a few lifestyle changes, such as adopting a healthier diet, regular exercise and maintaining a healthy weight can reverse pre-diabetes, as well as reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes.
Pre-diabetes is when your blood sugar level is higher than normal but not high enough yet to be diagnosed as Type 2 diabetes. Studies show that if people with pre-diabetes lose weight and maintain a healthy
Body Mass Index (BMI), adopt a healthy diet and engage in regular physical activity, they can reduce their risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes is usually found in people aged 40 and above who are overweight and physically inactive. In some people, the condition is mild and they are able to control their blood glucose with just diet and exercise. However, if the condition gets worse, they may require oral medication or insulin injections in addition to making lifestyle changes. For those who are overweight or obese, losing weight can be significantly beneficial, even if it is a small amount.
Usually inherited and cannot be prevented. Occurs when the pancreas cannot produce insulin. Hence, people with Type 1 diabetes need insulin injections daily.
Due to the hormonal changes in pregnancy, some women may show high blood glucose levels during pregnancy. These women require specialised obstetric care to prevent complications to the unborn child. In gestational diabetes, the blood glucose levels often return to normal after delivery. However, these women may be at an increased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes later in life.
Diabetes can affect anyone. Knowing your risk of diabetes will help identify the changes you need to make to your lifestyle. You are at an increased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes if you:
Have a parent or
sibling with diabetes
Have a BMI of
23.0 kg/m2 or higher
Lead an inactive
high blood pressure
Have abnormal blood
Have a history of
Are 40 years old
Have impaired glucose tolerance or
impaired fasting glucose
Diabetes is a ‘silent’ disease in its early stages, and you can feel perfectly well until complications occur. However, a late diagnosis can result in serious and irreversible complications that could have been otherwise prevented through screening. It is therefore important to get yourself screened even if you feel perfectly healthy and experience no symptoms, for regular health screening is the best way to detect diabetes early and obtain timely treatment.
Screening for chronic diseases, including diabetes, is recommended under HPB's
Screen for Life programme for those 40 years old and above. It is conducted through a non-fasting or fasting blood glucose test, done once every three years.
Screen for Life programme offered by most
CHAS GP clinics, chronic disease screening (including the doctor consult charges) is available at the following subsidised rates:
Pioneer GenerationIf you are a Pioneer Generation cardholder, the
screening test and the first post screening
consultation (if assessed that a consultation is
required) will be
Merdeka GenerationIf you are a Merdeka Generation cardholder, the
screening test and the first post screening
consultation (if assessed that a consultation is
required) will be
Community Health Assist Scheme (CHAS) Card Holders If you are a CHAS cardholder (blue or orange
card), you will only need to pay
$2 for the
screening test and the first post screening
consultation (if assessed that a consultation is
required). Applicable for both males and
females aged 40 and above.
Other Eligible Singaporeans You will only need to pay
$5 for the screening
test and the first post screening consultation (if
assessed that a consultation is required).
Applicable for both males and females aged 40
Permanent Residents While Permanent Residents are
not eligible for SFL subsidies, you can enjoy
HPB’s screening test rate(s)* at CHAS GP clinics.
The prevailing doctors’ consultation rates will be
charged accordingly by the respective CHAS GP clinics.
*Please check with your preferred CHAS GP clinics
for the rates.
These rates are only applicable at CHAS GP clinics for the screening tests that are covered under the enhanced Screen for Life subsidies.
Health screening is available at many private medical clinics and polyclinics. Visit our
directory for the list of screening locations, or
click here to locate your nearest CHAS GP clinic offering SFL screening services.
Learn more about the screening tests and subsidies you are eligible for at
Your doctor may conduct three types of blood glucose tests for diabetes.
HbA1c is a blood test that gives an indication of your average blood glucose/sugar levels over the past three months. You do not need to fast on the day of the test.
This is a blood test usually done in the morning, as it requires a fast of at least 8 hours before the blood sample is taken.
An oral glucose tolerance test consists of two blood tests; the first administered after an 8-hour fast, and the second 2 hours after consuming a sugary beverage.
There are many myths about diabetes which people think to be true. This can be harmful as it leads to an incorrect understanding of diabetes. Get the facts below, and learn more about this chronic disease.
Diabetes occurs when the body fails to produce enough insulin – the hormone responsible for reducing blood glucose levels. Although eating sweet food does not directly cause diabetes, a diet high in sugar and fat can lead to obesity, which causes the body to be less sensitive to insulin, thus increasing the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.
Don’t be fooled by the “pre” in pre-diabetes. The condition affects 1 in 7 Singaporeans and puts them at increased risks of developing Type 2 diabetes, heart disease or stroke.
But it is not too late to turn things around and take control. Some lifestyle adjustments, such as committing to a healthy diet, including more physical activity and losing weight can do a lot in preventing or delaying the onset of diabetes.
Unfortunately, diabetes is a chronic medical condition that has no cure. The good news is it can be managed with some lifestyle changes and, in some cases, medication.
There are two types of diabetes, Type 1 and Type 2. People with Type 1 diabetes are unable to produce insulin due to a disorder affecting the pancreas. They require regular insulin injections to control their blood sugar levels. Type 1 diabetes cannot be helped by lifestyle changes alone, but maintaining a healthy lifestyle is still important in keeping it in check.
On the other hand, people with Type 2 diabetes are able to produce insulin, but it may not be enough or they become resistant to it. Lifestyle changes are crucial in managing Type 2 diabetes. Doctors may also prescribe oral medication or insulin injections, or a combination of both.
In contrast, pre-diabetes can be reversed with lifestyle changes.
Amputation refers to the removal of a limb or parts of a limb (e.g. foot) as a result of gangrene or death of body tissues from poor blood flow. It happens in people with long standing diabetes that is poorly controlled. People who take care of themselves by going for regular check-ups, taking medication, and living healthy lifestyles can avoid such complications.
Carbohydrates are a main source of energy essential for metabolism and well-being. Instead of actively avoiding carbohydrates to control blood sugar levels, people living with diabetes should be more careful about the type and amount of carbohydrates they consume, as well as the time of consumption. Diabetic individuals should get sufficient carbohydrates, preferably the complex type from whole grains like brown rice. They should also have their meals at regular times.
Snacks and candies labelled “no added sugar” or “suitable for diabetics” may seem safer than regular snack food, but the sugar could be replaced by artificial sweeteners. Such snacks may also be higher in fat and calories than their regular counterparts. Always be aware of the ingredients in processed food and limit your consumption of foods that are high in fat and sugar.
Not everyone with diabetes feels unwell. In fact, many people with diabetes do not have any symptoms, particularly during the early stages of the condition. They can have diabetes for months, even years, without knowing it. This is why it is important to go for regular health check-ups, so that you can detect the condition early.
There is currently no conclusive evidence that ionised alkaline water is beneficial to health. Individuals can achieve good health by adopting and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, which includes the following:
People with Type 2 diabetes can feel well and not experience any symptoms at all. However, there may also be symptoms that develop gradually and are sometimes so mild they go unnoticed, such as the following:
Feeling thirsty despite
drinking lots of water
Poor healing of
cuts and wounds
all the time
despite good appetite
Itchy skin especially
around the genital area
The high blood glucose (hyperglycemia) levels in uncontrolled diabetes can damage both nerves and blood vessels. As blood vessels supply blood to various organs, this can eventually lead to complications such as:
Foot disease such as
numbness, ulcers, and even gangrene
Nerve disease which can lead to problems such as erectile dysfunction and diarrhoea
Heart disease such as
angina and heart attack
Choose more wholegrains, fruit and vegetables, as well as less sugar and saturated fat. Join the Eat, Drink, Shop Healthy Challenge for more rewards!
Whatever your age and condition, eating well has its benefits. A healthy diet and lifestyle can increase your mental sharpness, energy levels, and resistance to illness and disease.
Healthy eating doesn’t have to be about bland and boring food. Eating well should be about a well-rounded diet that follows the principles of a healthy diet. It should be balanced, made up of fresh and tasty food, and above all, enjoyed — whether in the company of family or friends.
A helpful guideline is
My Healthy Plate, a friendly visual tool to help you create healthy and balanced meals.
Naturally low in fat and rich in vitamins, minerals and fibre, fruit and vegetables add colour, texture, and flavour to your diet. With so many
fruit and vegetables in the market, mix and match your choices to get maximum benefit. Remember not to overcook vegetables, and go for whole fruit rather than fruit juices.
Wholegrain foods such as brown rice, wholemeal bread, and rolled oats contain nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, and inulin. Not only do they protect you from heart diseases and diabetes, they also help manage your weight as they fill you up and you get hungry less easily. On the other hand, refined grains such as white rice and white bread have gone through processing, which removes the valuable nutrients. They also cause a greater increase in your blood glucose levels after a meal.
Protein such as yogurt, cheese, lentils, legumes, nuts, and seeds are essential for growth and repair of damaged tissues. Protein is also needed in the production of hormones and enzymes. To make a healthier choice, select items lower in fat, cholesterol, and salt.
To feel fuller and stay slimmer, replace sweetened drinks with water and also drink a glass of water before meals. Drinking water improves blood circulation and prevents muscle cramps so you can engage in regular physical activity and stay healthy. In Singapore’s hot and humid climate, it is important to keep yourself well-hydrated.
Aim for no more than two drinks per day if you are female, and three drinks per day if you are male. A standard drink is one can (330 ml) of beer, one glass (100 ml) of wine, or one nip (30 ml) of spirits. Beer, wine, and hard liquor contain alcohol – a high source of calories. Regular binge drinking adds inches to your belly and increases your risk of diabetes and heart diseases.
Choose unsaturated fats and oils that are healthier, and reduce intake of saturated and trans fats. A diet high in fat can contain calories, thus increasing the risk of obesity and diabetes.
If you have diabetes, it is important that you understand how different foods affect your blood glucose levels. Foods are classified into four food groups and they are:
(starches and sugars)
(fish, tofu, chicken, beans and nuts, milk and dairy products)
To keep your blood glucose levels within a steady healthy range, choose meals and snacks from each food group every day. The amount of food you consume is just as important as the type of food so learn to control your portion sizes.
Physical activity is important to health. Get started with HPB's island-wide physical activity programmes and get more from life today!
Want to know what you stand to gain if you stay active? The
benefits of being physically active are plenty:
Before you start planning an exercise routine, take some time to learn more about the
variety of physical activities and the benefits they can provide for your body. You will then be able to combine physical activities and get the most out of your exercise routine.
Choose activities that you enjoy and love doing to fit your lifestyle.
To gain health benefits, it is recommended that a healthy person engage in either:
The good news is you can:
Besides aerobic activity, you should also engage in activities that strengthen your muscles two or more days a week. Start with lighter weights or fewer repetitions, and slowly increase the weight over time. A repetition refers to a complete movement of an activity, or the number of times you perform an exercise movement; e.g. 10 sit-ups = 10 repetitions, 15 squats = 15 repetitions. Choose activities that work on different large muscle groups.
Brisk walking, dancing, cycling, jogging, swimming, and playing badminton
Push-ups, pull-ups, sit-ups, and squats, working with resistance band and weight training
Intensity refers to how hard your body is working during aerobic activity.
Brisk walking (5 km/hr)
Leisure cycling (<16 km/hr)
Playing badminton (doubles)
Jogging or running
Cycling at a fast pace
Swimming continuous laps
Playing badminton (singles)
Playing football or basketball
FOR YOUR SAFETY: If you have a medical condition, are very overweight or obese and/or have not been exercising for a long time, see your doctor before you start an exercise programme.
To help you take better control of your health, we have curated a list of programmes to support you through your journey to BEAT diabetes.
In order to achieve a healthy weight, it is important to first understand the dangers of obesity. Obesity is a condition in which excess body fat accumulates and puts you at risk of a variety of health problems. This excess fat may reduce life expectancy and increase the risk of other health problems - so it is vital to maintain a healthy weight.
There are many ways to measure body fat. However, the simplest is by calculating your Body Mass Index (BMI). BMI measures the relationship between your weight and height to measure the amount of body fat you have. The higher your BMI, the higher the amount of fat in your body.
Keep an eye on your BMICalculate your BMI and keep your BMI in the healthy range (18.5 – 22.9 kg/m2) through an active lifestyle and healthy eating.
Are you in the healthy range? Use this
tool to calculate your Body Mass Index (BMI) now to know your health risk.
A BMI value of 23 and above indicates that your weight is outside of the healthy weight range for your height. Find out more on how to achieve and maintain a healthy BMI through a healthy and active lifestyle.
Weight management is all about energy balance. To maintain your weight, you must balance the amount of energy you get from food and drinks with the amount of energy your body uses for daily physical activity.
Consuming more energy than you need will lead to weight gain, while burning more energy than you consume will lead to weight loss.
Smokers are more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes. People with diabetes who smoke experience more problems with their diabetes control than those who don’t. They are also more likely to end up with diabetes complications.
What’s more, smoking damages the blood vessels and reduces blood flow to many organs. So if you have diabetes and smoke, you are at a higher risk of serious complications, such as heart disease, amputation, and stroke.
If you do not smoke, continue to stay smoke-free and enjoy the health benefits it brings.
If you smoke, make the decision to quit smoking today. The good news is that there is a range of support strategies to help you quit smoking. It is a matter of finding the right one for you.
Quit “cold turkey”
Gradually cut down on the number of cigarettes
Seek professional help
Use nicotine replacement therapy
Attend a self-help group
Whichever method you choose, remember there’s no magic formula to quitting.
For professional help, call QuitLine at
1800 438 2000.
You will be encouraged to know that many people make several attempts to quit smoking before they manage to successfully break free from the habit. So if you fail to quit on the first attempt or experience any relapses long the way, do not give up and try again.
Stress can raise blood pressure and blood glucose levels. It can also affect how well you manage medical conditions. Here are some tips to improve your mental well-being:
Besides causing you to lose focus and increasing the risk of accidents,
sleep deprivation has been linked to several health conditions including heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, and diabetes. Lack of sleep may be associated with an increase in hunger and appetite, as well as obesity. If you experience problems sleeping and it is affecting your personal and work life, see a doctor to rule out underlying medical conditions.
The way you think affects how you feel about people, things and situations as well as how you respond to them. The ability to
think positive and embrace optimism is linked to many health benefits. It doesn’t suggest burying your head in the sand and ignoring problems you have. Positive thinking simply means that you approach the negative things in life in a more positive and productive manner. Not only does it help you cope better with stressful situations, it also reduces the harmful effects stress has on your body. It is also believed that positive people tend to take better care of themselves. They eat more healthily, get more physical activity, do not smoke, and do not drink alcohol in excess.
mindful is to be aware of your thoughts, feelings and environment, moment by moment. Instead of harping on the past or worrying about the future, mindfulness brings your attention to the present – helping to clear your mind of mental clutter and focus on positive feelings and thoughts. Take time to breathe in and breathe out, to savour the food you eat, or simply to enjoy the sunset – these are all simple and effective ways of being mindful.
Stress, especially chronic stress, can have a negative effect on blood glucose levels. People under stress tend not to take care of themselves. They may drink and eat excessively, exercise less or not have enough sleep. They may forget or not have the time to check their blood glucose or prepare healthy meals.
Get screened today. Find out what screenings are best for you and your loved ones.
Take the right steps and BEAT diabetes. Start by calculating your BMI.
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