A hospital in Amsterdam’s Slotervaart neighbourhood is offering counseling to diabetic residents who want to fast during Ramadan. Patients attend the clinic to seek advice or shift the dosage of their medication. Often, they are advised against fasting. Clinic nurse Fatima Malki explains, “We have to tell them it’s not a good idea. We explain to them that there are verses of the Qur’an which allow very sick people to be excused from fasting.”
In less than 10 years the clinic has become a well known resource in the neighbourhood and sees an increase in attendance over Ramadan. Eelco Meesters, head of the specialist diabetes unit at the hospital, tells AFP that the clinic treats over 1,400 patients, over half of whom are immigrants from Morocco, Turkey and Surinam.
The numbers of immigrants living with diabetes in Spain is estimated between 15-25 percent of immigrants, compared to just 12 percent among native Spaniards. “We think there are around 500,000 diabetic immigrants, diagnosed and not, most of whom are Latin American, Moroccan and Pakistani”, explains Josep Franch at the Raval Sud Drassanes medical clinic in Barcelona. Doctors believe the rates are connected to cultural food choices, and are making suggestions to patients; Indians and Pakistanis are being urged to lessen carbohydrate-rich breads, and patients of Moroccan backgrounds are encouraged to eat fewer honey-covered sweets. Besides changes in diet, Franch also notes that the concept of disease varies among cultures. If they aren’t in pain they don’t think they are unwell, but the consequences of diabetes on health occur in the mid- to long-term”, Franch notes.
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The Faculty of education of Lumsa and Regione Lazio has sponsored a pilot project aimed to inform and sensitize immigrants about food in Italy. A leaflet describing _healthy lifestyle’ included information about alimentary habits of some ethnic groups in Italy, and a food pyramid built on the principles of nutritional information and a importance of a balanced and diverse diet. The leaflet also discusses the importance of physical fitness and warns against health-related dangers of obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases.
According to a study carried out by the Department of Experimental Sciences of the University of Granada, immigrant teenagers eat a better diet than Spanish teenagers. As a result, immigrant teenagers have a lower probability of suffering from obesity, diabetes, and other cardiovascular diseased caused by bad eating habits. Issues such as meal habits, kinds of foods, and nutrition were among those examined in the study.