Is your child at risk?

Is your child at risk?

This is followed by insulin deficiency. High blood sugar is a common effect of uncontrolled diabetes and, over time, leads to serious damage to many of the body systems, especially the nerves and the blood vessels.

The prevalence of type 2 diabetes is increasing the world over. This trend is being found both in the developed and developing countries. Superimposed on this disturbing trend in adults is the emerging problem of type 2 diabetes in children. This rising prevalence of type 2 diabetes in children will expose them to the risk of developing macrovascular and microvascular complications during the prime of their life — their earning period — which is sure to have an adverse impact on the economy.

Early incidence
Type 2 diabetes was hitherto uncommon until the age of 40 years. However, in recent times individuals aged 25-40 years have been showing up with clinical features of type 2 diabetes.

The incidence of type 2 diabetes in children is reported to be increasing in several parts of the world. Among the native North Americans, 30 per cent of the new cases of type 2 diabetes occur in the second decade of life while among Japanese school children, type 2 diabetes is 7 times more common than type 1. A similar trend has been reported among the Chinese and Mexican American youth. Around 4.5 per cent of all type 2 diabetics are below 20 years. Type 2 diabetes presents itself a decade or two earlier in India than in the West. About 38 per cent of type 2 diabetics in India are under 40 years.

Lifestyle to blame
Type 2 diabetes is a manifestation of a drastic change in the lifestyle of both adults as well as children. There is a frightening increase in physical inactivity, unhealthy food habits and obesity in children and adults. When obesity develops in childhood years it generally continues into adulthood and frequently becomes more severe. The health consequences of obesity in adults are well established, including greater rates of hyperinsulinemia, hypertension, glucose intolerance and coronary heart disease (CHD). This is often a precursor to diabetes and antedates the development of diabetes by 7-8 years.

There is also a concern that babies born to young women with type 2 diabetes are at greater risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes, creating a vicious cycle. Diabetes in young people is a challenge for both the patient and the doctor. For both of them there is the prospect of many decades of diabetes and so the correct diagnosis and treatment is a priority.

This is the first generation where children may die before their parents. Creating awareness in the younger generation about the burden of diabetes is the need of the hour.

Stop gorging, start playing
There are things one can do to help prevent type 2 diabetes in children: encourage active play, physical activity and healthy meals.
For kids who are overweight, here are some changes one can try: limit time for television and video games to less than four hours a day, drink fewer soft drinks and soda and drink more water instead, limit fast foods or eat smaller portion sizes.

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