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Promoting healthy lifestyle: A Seafarer’s Guide to Understanding Diabetes

Promoting healthy lifestyle: A Seafarer’s Guide to Understanding Diabetes
As of 2013, the International Diabetes Federation estimates that a total of 382 million adults currently suffer from diabetes, and that this disease will eventually affect one out of 10 adults by 2035.

While diabetes has a reputation of being a relatively innocuous disease that can be managed quite easily, it is responsible for 5.1 million deaths annually, which is an alarming rate of one death every six seconds. In fact, this disease is often the fourth or fifth leading cause of death in most high-income nations and is becoming increasingly epidemic in many economically developing and newly industrialised countries.

What is particularly concerning for the maritime industry is that multiple studies have shown that that there is a higher risk of seafarers developing diabetes as compared to the general populace. This is in view of their challenging working conditions and lifestyle and the prevalence of smoking, lack of exercise and poor diet within the group.

diabetesTo address concerns of a higher risk for seafarers to develop diabetes, Swire Pacific Offshore (SPO) and The China Navigation Company (CNCo) partnered with The Mission to Seafarers, a non-profit organisation dedicated to supporting seafarers worldwide, to produce a health guide, A Seafarer's Guide to Understanding Diabetes in 2015. SPO and CNCo strongly believe in encouraging seafarers to take proactive actions to pursue a healthy lifestyle.

This guide seeks to explain the dangers of diabetes in the context of seafaring and to suggest practical lifestyle adjustments that seafarers can make to minimise their risks of the disease. This will allow them to spend quality time with their families between seafaring without having to worry about any lingering medical issues.

The guide has been distributed in over 50 shipping companies after debuting in the Sea Asia Conference in April 2015. The guide was designed to be able to be circulated in hard or soft copy to any other companies’ fleet, and is freely available on request from the Mission to Seafarers.

Simon Bennett general manager, sustainable development, at SPO and CNCo commented: “Multiple research projects have shown that seafarers have a higher risk of developing Type 2 diabetes when compared with the general population. This may be due in large part to their lifestyle, with an increased prevalence of smoking, lack of exercise and poor diet within the group.

“We produced this educational guide as part of our ongoing Sustainable Development initiatives. We aim to raise awareness about Type 2 diabetes and encourage our seafarers to pursue a healthier lifestyle. This benefits both the seafarers and their families through a longer and healthier lives, plus the companies through reduced medical costs and lower turnover of expensively trained, competent, experienced seafarers.”

A royalty free copy can be obtained via this link: