About half of the known 4.5 million diabetes patients in Vietnam have never been properly diagnosed or treated, reports the National Hospital of Endocrinology.

This is blamed for many of the dangerous complications that arise in some patients, such as kidney failure, high blood pressure, coronary diseases and blindness.

The situation was revealed at a workshop in central Da Nang City on Mar. 7 to implement a national diabetes prevention project.

National Hospital director Nguyen Van Tien warned that there is a high risk of the ailment affecting people who are not diagnosed early and take no proper preventative steps.

The hospital survey revealed that public awareness of the disease remains low. Only 0.4 percent of surveyed people are well aware of the disease.

Meanwhile, the number of diabetes patients has increased at an average rate of 7 percent each year.

In a move to improve the efficiency of the national diabetes prevention project, Deputy Health Minister Nguyen Thi Xuyen asked the health sector to focus on screening and early diagnosis.

The sector should also pay attention to spreading information and improving the training of health workers participating in the project.

Doctors advise that diabetes can be controlled if patients undergo periodical examination and treatment to reduce blood-sugar concentration by following proper dietary regime.

"Diabetes patients should eat more fibre-rich food, fruits, and vegetables and eat less fat-rich food and red meat," said Kieu Quoc Khanh, former director of Hanoi-based hospital of the railway sector.

"They should also limit consumption of foods that increase sugar levels, like bread, potatoes, sweet fruits, fruit juices, cakes, and soft drinks," he said.-VNA

"Diabetes patients need to change their lifestyles such as reducing alcoholic intake, quitting smoking, and taking up exercise."

Diabetes is a group of metabolic diseases that create high blood sugars, either because the body does not produce enough insulin, or because cells do not respond to the insulin that is produced.

WHO figures showed that 135 million people around the world had diabetes in 1995, but the number had ballooned to 221 million by 2010. The number is expected to rise to 300 million by 2025.