Type II diabetes is one of the major public health issues among low income countries affecting the adult population. In Kiribati there are an increasing number of diabetic cases; most of these cases have undergone surgery, predominantly amputations, reducing people’s quality of life. Workers in urban areas may be at risk of developing type II diabetes due to their busy careers, which makes them highly dependent on processed foods. Their rates of physical exercise may also be low.
This research was carried out to explore the perceptions of full time workers who had been diagnosed with type II diabetes regarding workplace conditions that were contributing toward their risks in developing this disease. The research mainly concerned their lifestyles and experiences within the workplace prior to their diagnosis.
The study employed a qualitative research methodology and used semi-structured interviews and transect walk methods to conduct the study. Semi-structured interviews involved face to face interviews with participants and two transect walks were conducted; one was conducted outside workplaces within the area and the other transect walk took place within one of the participating workplaces.
Results show that these full time workers are vulnerable in developing type II diabetes. This is due to limited access to fresh local foods and the increased availability of processed foods within the area. Limited access to local foods are related to problems like limited space to grow fresh foods due to urbanisation, finding no time to do gardening and damaging storms which continuously ruined crops due to climate change. There are also no fitness centres within the area, as well as no safe pathways to promote physical exercise. It was also found that knowledge of diabetes among these workers was poor. The study also showed that there were no health promotion activities within workplaces to promote the general health and welfare of these workers.
In conclusion, this study suggests that a multi-sectoral approach be used to take workable measures to improve the health of these workers. This includes full time
workers, as well as all those experts on related problems which are contributing to the risks of type II diabetes. However there is also a need to inform and involve international agencies about climate change impact on local food production as well as corporate companies about the need to export healthy packaged or processed foods. These, hopefully, will provide more opportunities for healthier lifestyles for those full time workers in Kiribati within an urban area in Bairiki.