Population approach

The Population Approach

The IDF population approach to the prevention of type 2 diabetes aims to bring about important changes in the health of a large percentage of the population.

Type 2 diabetes is a disease of slow onset, the prevalence of which increases with age. Its prevention, therefore, cannot be accomplished rapidly or with a single measure, and the approach must instead be methodical and sustained over a long period of time.

In societies that encourage unhealthy lifestyles, information and education alone will not succeed. Attention must be paid to the creation of an environment and conditions that are conducive to achieving and maintaining an active lifestyle and healthy eating habits.

The IDF population approach recognizes that the health sector alone cannot accomplish population wide changes. New strategic relationships with groups not normally associated with health but whose activities have an impact on health are needed. For example, the food industry (producers, processors, distributors, retailers and restaurateurs) is a key partner for reducing the energy density and fat content of food.

The IDF population strategy requires the governments of all countries to develop and implement a National Diabetes Prevention Plan. This national plan would encompass many groups including schools; communities (for example, religious and ethnic groups); industry (marketing, investment policy, product development) and the workplace (health promotion within the working environment).

Based on the findings of lifestyle prevention studies, the IDF recommends that:

  • Everyone is encouraged to engage in at least 30 min of moderately intense physical activity (eg. brisk walking) most days of the week.
  • Everyone should be encouraged to maintain a healthy weight.
  • Adults with BMI > 25kg/m2 in Europids and > 23kg/m2 in Asians (race/gender specific – see table B) should be encouraged to attain and maintain a healthy weight and/or 5-10% weight reduction.
  • Children should be encouraged to attain and maintain weight for height in the normal range.

Priorities in developed and developing worlds:

  • Approach needs to be culturally sensitive
  • Cultural beliefs (eg. about obesity) need to be understood and addressed