More than 5m people in Myanmar who suffer from prediabetes could benefit, as the South-East Asian country has a high index of diabetes and prediabetes, at 10.5% of the population and 19.5%, respectively, according to research by the Ministry of Health in 2014.
Dr Aye Thidar Than, pediatrician at Parami Hospital in Yangon, said the causes of diabetes are linked to two factors: genetics and environment.
Environmental factors are related to lifestyle: eating unhealthy food, for example, can be one of the main causes of diabetes, she said.
“Public awareness on how kids can have a healthy life in Myanmar is very low. Indeed, due to poor living standards and lack of knowledge, some parents do not notice the basic symptoms of diabetes in kids, such as thirst, peeing often or high sweat levels,” she said.
She added diabetic or prediabetic patients must reduce carbohydrate and glucose consumption, eat less fat and more protein.
“This is why we recommend them to drink milk,” she noted.
Pascal Bardouil, managing director at FrieslandCampina Myanmar said the new finding reinforces milk’s value as a nutritional asset as part of a balanced diet, in place of other drinks filled with sugar and calories that can contribute to the onset of diabetes.
The Myanmar Diabetes Care Program was launched by the Ministry of Health on March 2017, to create more diabetes education programs and improve the diabetes care for Myanmar children across the country and recognizing the public health problem.
A study conducted by FrieslandCampina in November 2016 found milk consumption remains low and infrequent milk among Myanmar children.
Only one in 10 children in the country regularly consumes milk –a much lower index than other South East Asian countries, and dairy represents only 2% of their total daily volume of beverages consumed.