Feel4Diabetes programme, which means: "Families across Europe following a hEalthy Lifestyle 4 Diabetes prevention", has been launched for Bulgaria at Medical University – Varna today. The programme is supported by the European Commission and aims to create, implement, and evaluate an evidence-based and potentially cost-effective and large-scale interventional programme for preventing type 2 diabetes across Europe, targeted primarily at families from vulnerable groups. The programme involves a total of 10 partners - teams from Athens, Greece (coordinator), Helsinki, Ghent, Dresden, Zaragoza, Debrecen and the International Diabetes Federation (IDF). In Bulgaria the participant is MU-Varna, with a lead researcher Prof. Violeta Yotova and a team from Medical University-Sofia under the guidance of Prof. Tsvetelina Tankova.
Feel4Diabetes will go on till 2019, including a scope of events, intended to take place in the Sea Capital, which will be organized by the Medical University, with the support of the Municipality of Varna and Varna Regional Inspectorate, where 1 500 primary school students from Varna schools will be involved, said Prof. Yotova. The meeting was also attended by Prof. Todorka Kostadinova - Vice-Rector International Cooperation, Accreditation and Quality at MU-Varna, Ventsislava Genova - Head of the Regional Inspectorate of Education, Nelly Valeva - Head of "Children and School Health", Assoc. Prof. Antonia Tsvetkova - Chairman of the Health Commission and Slavcho Slavov - Chairman of the Committee on Science and Education in the Municipality of Varna.
The main objectives of Feel4Diabetes Project are to identify the communities with vulnerable groups within six European countries (two economically developed ones - Finland and Belgium, two countries in transition - Greece and Spain, and two low/middle income countries - Bulgaria and Hungary), to develop, implement and evaluate a cheap and applicable under the circumstances of low resource environment, school and community-based intervention, aimed at creating a supportive social and physical environment and encouraging changes towards a healthier lifestyle for children and their families and identifying families at high risk for type 2 diabetes within these communities. There will also be after-school training sessions on healthy lifestyles that are targeted both at children and parents simultaneously. "Promoting healthy behaviours and lifestyles is more effective when the whole family is being approached. This approach is more cost-effective, since it focuses on three generations at the same time", commented Prof. Yotova.
Type 2 diabetes is among the major "murderers" of 21st century. In addition to the fact that more than 387 million people suffer from it today, and the forecast shows that their number will be more than 600 million in 2035, the increasing incidence of diabetes at younger age creates new challenges for health systems worldwide. The ever-increasing obesity and immobility lead to a vicious cycle with progressive increase in the number of patients. In our country more than 520 000 people suffer from diabetes, other 120 000 people are still undiagnosed, whereas a large percentage of them annually become disabled. Still due to its inherent complications, diabetes shortens lifespan by an average of 15 years. Given all this, the logical conclusion can be drawn that preventing and postponing the onset of diabetes would have a tremendously high medical, social and economic impact. That is the major reason why the European Commission promotes projects like ours.