unhealthy eating

How to Prevent this Health Risk Common Among Expats, Business Travelers

Assignees from other countries often watch out for risks of cardiovascular diseases or  developing a high blood pressure once they emigrate to the United States. That’s because they know that these medical conditions often come with high levels of stress — and assignees are astute enough to know that they will be stressed out during the first few months. Rising up to professional expectations and cultural adjustments alone can lead to sleepless nights.

One thing that they might as well be vigilant about is contracting diabetes. It can happen — and it can catch them blindsided, along with the global mobility specialists who employed them.

The Mayo Clinic describes diabetes as the excess of glucose in one’s body. Glucose in itself is helpful — it is the blood sugar that provides the energy that the person needs to accomplish their task. It also provides that jumpstart to creativity that the brain thrives on. But too much glucose can be a bad thing. Healthline lists a few of the bad effects that diabetes can deal the human body: risk of stroke and heart attack, high blood pressure, visual deficiencies, cataracts, pancreas malfunction, nerve damage, lack of energy, and foot problems.The American Diabetes Association says that 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with the medical condition, and another 83 million are at risk of contracting it. It’s the number seven health risk that can lead to death, topping AIDS and breast cancer.

Now what do assignees have to do with this?

This small sound of alarm can start with a bit of news story that trickled from The National. Apparently, expatriates or assignees who are based in Africa and the Middle East are being diagnosed with diabetes in increasing number — and the experts have traced this to these workers contracting “Western lifestyle habits.” These include binging on too much sweets and fats, and discarding essential gym time in favor of sedentary computer-related work and more social networking which all lead to more unhealthy eating. Assignees in particular who had been used to more strenuous work back home, and who would walk or do physical activities regularly, suddenly start adopting the lifestyles of their new colleagues. Their systems might not be prepared for the sweet shock — and without being aware of it, their glucose levels rise.

Expert Financial adds that frequent traveling by assignees can lead to unhealthy eating habits. Irregular work hours that do not allow regular gym time can also be detrimental.

American truckers who do a lot of traveling have seen an increase in diabetes in their midst. According to Fleet Owners, that’s because they rarely exercise, and when it comes to food, they grab the nearest items they can find in stopovers or fast food restaurants. These meals are often heavy in sugar and fat. What adds to the truckers’ vulnerability is that they also tend to smoke excessively to pass away the time and release stress.

There are symptoms to indicate if the assignee is a candidate for diabetes, aside from the lifestyle habits mentioned. The consequences that Healthline listed are also a giveaway. Others are increasing obesity, listlessness, frequent hunger, and frequent thirst.

Global mobility specialists who see an assignee developing several of the above symptoms can encourage them to see a physician. Prevention still is worth an ounce of cure. Then if the diagnosis is positive, support is vital. Compliance with what the doctor has prescribed is non-negotiable. The global mobility specialist can also check if the assignee’s health insurance covers the condition.

Finally, he might encourage the assignee to discard the unhealthy bad habits and acquire the healthy ones. Taking him on a tour around places like Northern California cities like San Mateo and San Jose can introduce him to the pleasures of biking, trail hiking, and restaurants that serve nutritional gourmet food.

Small things like these can help the assignee manage his condition. And if the diagnosis fortunately turns out to be negative, then at least he would have embarked on a more productive, health-conscious lifestyle that can assure him longer, happier years in his city of employment.