War on diabetes: Research to focus on young adults, pre-school children and the workplace

At the Second Singapore International Public Health Conference, Professor Chia Kee Seng will be sharing three strategic research areas the NUS School of Public Health will be focusing on next to aid Singapore’s ongoing war against diabetes.
At the Second Singapore International Public Health Conference, Professor Chia Kee Seng will be sharing three strategic research areas the NUS School of Public Health will be focusing on next to aid Singapore’s ongoing war against diabetes.ST PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM

SINGAPORE - New research in the country's war against diabetes will zoom in on obesity factors in young adults, the lifestyle of pre-school children, and health programmes at work.

Some $1 million in funding will be set aside for 11 research projects on diabetes, with a focus in these three areas. The research will be carried out by the National University of Singapore's (NUS') Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health. The studies range from those that could last about six to nine months to those that will take a few years.

This was announced by Professor Chia Kee Seng, dean of NUS' Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health, at the second Singapore International Public Health Conference on Thursday (Sept 29).

He noted that diabetes is a "lifestyle disease that can be prevented by adopting healthy dietary habits and regular physical activities".

So research in Singapore's effort to fight diabetes will seek to understand the factors causing increasing obesity in young adults, who are part of the country's active work force, said Professor Chia.

Another area of research is to study the lifestyle andbehaviour of pre-school children, such as babies and toddlers who are fed sweetened milk, beverages and fruit juices. "Such practices do not just damage (their) milk teeth, but also conditions them to consume more sweetened products as they grow older," explained Professor Chia.

Also important is the need to look into and understand the factors influencing the adoption and effectiveness of health promotion programmes at work. "Workplace health promotion can no longer be (something that is) 'good to have'. It is a must have," said Professor Chia.

The two-day Singapore International Public Health Conference is attended by about 600 international and local researchers, healthcare professionals, policy makers and industry leaders from 25 countries. It is jointly organised every four years, by the NUS Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health, and the College of Public Health and Occupational Physicians.

Dr Amy Khor, Senior Minister of State for Health and the Environment and Water Resources, said at the event: "While the increasing prevalence of diabetes and its related complications is of grave concern, it is also a window of opportunity for us to relook at the challenges, and work together with our partners from all sectors of our society to develop new and enhanced measures to tackle this issue."