Diabetes affects both rich and poor

Mr Mohamad Farid Harunal Rashid may wish to refer to the World Health Organisation's (WHO) inaugural 2016 report on diabetes to reflect on his conjecture that socioeconomic status is the elephant in the room that underpins sub-optimal lifestyle choices (Study socioeconomic status in fight against diabetes; Dec 1).

To summarise WHO's findings, what was once regarded as the problem of the rich, now belongs to the poor.

In other words, the disease is fluid across socioeconomic segments, contingent on a confluence of factors, including cultural, lifestyle, and dietary habits.

In Singapore, some of the healthiest food items sold at our wet markets - such as vegetables, fruits and soya bean curd - are also among the most affordable.

Potable water, either straight off the tap or from the grocery store, is certainly the cheapest and most accessible way to quench our thirst, if not the most nourishing.

In short, the options for a healthier lifestyle are available to all - rich and poor regardless of race.

Nevertheless, it may still be instructive for the authorities to share the incidence of diabetes among the low-income by ethnicity, as well as vis-a-vis their peers in the high-income group.

For example, what is the incidence of diabetes among low-income Chinese-Singaporeans compared with the low-income and high-income members in the Malay-Singaporean community?

Toh Cheng Seong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 17, 2018, with the headline 'Diabetes affects both rich and poor'. Print Edition | Subscribe