HAVANA, Aug. 16 (Xinhua) -- More than a million Cubans, almost 11 percent of the population, suffer from diabetes, a renowned Cuban expert said recently.
In an interview with local media Las Tunas-26, Manuel Raices, a researcher at the Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology, said diabetes, which is one of the leading causes of death, is considered a 21st century pandemic.
Diabetes is characterized by high levels of sugar in the blood resulting from bad nutrition and lifestyles, Raices said.
He especially blamed the adoption of Western eating habits, including the consumption of processed ready-to-eat meals with too much fat, salt, sugar and carbohydrates, and an increasingly sedentary lifestyle in front of a computer, coupled with the stress of a competitive modern society.
Another risk factor in developing diabetes is obesity, which affects a large portion of the Cuban population.
These factors make the pancreas unable to process food, which gradually leads to diabetes, Raices said, adding that the solution is to move away from unhealthy habits.
Cuba's biotechnology industry plays an important role in combating diabetes.
"Cuba produces enough drugs and equipment so that we do not have to import them. That offers us sovereignty," he said.
Given the large number of people with diabetes in Cuba, health authorities are urging a healthier lifestyle that includes more outdoor activities and exercise.