Heart disease and diabetes dropped as Cuba went through economic hard times - Part 2

Heart disease and diabetes dropped as Cuba went through economic hard times - Part 2

What has happened to the health of Cuba from 1996-2011 once the Western food supply resumed?

  • The amount of food consumed had increased above the ‘pre 1991’ levels
  • There has been an average weight gain of 9kg
  • The Cuban population has now almost TRIPLED the obesity rates of 1995
  • Diabetes rates have grown by 140%
  • Death from diabetes has risen every year since 1996
  • Deaths from coronary heart disease and stroke have soared above the 1995 rates
  • Since 1996, physical activity levels have slightly declined so it is much more about food quality and intake than physical exercise

What is the ‘take home’ message here?

  • Strategies to bring down the weight of whole populations are possible
  • This immediately saves lives and increases longevity for all people
  • No country has successfully reduced the prevalence of obesity through public health campaigns or targeted treatment programmes

The international team of researchers from Spain, Cuba and the U.S. said comparing disease rates over time can demonstrate the power of prevention and help identify key risk factors.

The country has a long tradition of public health and heart disease research, which provided the necessary data from national health surveys, cardiovascular studies, primary care chronic disease registries and vital statistics over three decades.

Study by Franco M, et al “Population-wide weight loss and regain in relation to diabetes burden and cardiovascular mortality in Cuba 1980-2010” as published in the British Medical Journal 2013; DOI: 10.1136/bmj.f1515.  Second study by Willett WC “Weight changes and health in Cuba: learning from hardship” as published in the British Medical Journal 2013; DOI: 10.1136/bmj.f1777.  As reported by guardian.co.uk on Tuesday 9 April 2013 and by MedPage Today and The Daily Mail on April 9, 2013.

Posted: Thursday 6 March 2014