"The number of people in the world suffering from diabetes is increasing. Nearly 87 million people with diabetes live in the WHO South-East Asia Region," Poonam Khetrapal Singh, regional director for WHO South-East Asia Region said.

"We must act quickly to arrest this trend. Governments need to revisit their health promotion strategies for non-communicable diseases to increase awareness about simple and effective lifestyle changes, such as physical activity and healthy diet," she said in a statement.

It is estimated that 5.1 million deaths occurred globally last year on account of diabetes.

Khetrapal Singh said enabling environments must be created for people to adapt these lifestyle changes, with improved access to areas for walking, bicycling, sports and other physical activities.

"Healthy food should be made available at affordable rates to make healthy choice an easy choice. This requires a holistic approach and must include the private sector and engagement of sectors beyond health," she said.

She said that while governments have a role in prevention and control of diabetes, individuals can also make a difference by taking responsibility for their own health.

"Eating right and undertaking regular physical activity to maintain a healthy weight can cut the risk of diabetes or delay its onset,” she said.

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