16% of children in Karnataka prediabetic: Survey

16% of children in Karnataka prediabetic: Survey

The alarm bells for diabetes aren’t ringing for adults alone. According to a recent survey, at least 16% of children in Karnataka are prediabetic.

The survey commissioned by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare indicated that 16% of children in the 10-16 age group have high levels of blood sugar. The study also found that 10% of children in the of 5-9 age are prediabetic.

Prediabetes is a condition where one’s blood glucose levels are higher than normal but not high enough to be called diabetes. Experts cite overnutrition, poor lifestyle and genetic predisposition as the main factors that increase the risk of prediabetes in children.

The first-ever national micronutrient survey, with comprehensive nutritional assessment from birth to adolescence (0-19 years), also examined the participants’ health for possibilities of non-communicable diseases (NCD).

The study — carried out during February 2016 to October 2018 — covered 1.12 lakh children and adolescents (0-19 years) from across the states for height and weight measurements, and had samples from 51,029 participants (1-19 years).

Across the country, the study found that 10% of children and adolescents were prediabetic (measured by fasting serum glucose and glycosylated haemoglobin, HbA1C). Glycosylated hemoglobin measures the average blood sugar level over the past three months and is not affected by the fasting status.

Haryana, Goa top list

Haryana and Goa topped the list of states with a high percentage of prediabetic adolescents, at 25% and 24% respectively.

Dr Mahesh D M, consultant, endocrinologist, Aster CMI Hospital, said prediabetic adolescents could possibly turn diabetic around the age of 25 to 30.

“There is a lack of physical activity among adolescents. Not having a healthy diet is another concern. Till Class VIII, most kids play well. After that, studies take over. They read and watch TV late into the night. Dinner is also late. Reduced sleep could also contribute to the condition,” he said, consenting that the risk is higher among urban children than their rural counterparts.

Asha Benakappa, former director, Indira Gandhi Institute of Child Health, said genetic predisposition also plays a role. Clubbed with poor lifestyle, it manifests faster. “We are seeing what is a secular trend — where we are taller and larger compared to our ancestors. This happens once in several decades,” she said. 

“Also, studies have indicated that the waist-hip ratio among several children is very high. The consumption of junk food is another contributing factor,” Asha said.

Dr Rangaswamy, joint director, non-communicable diseases (NCD), said, “There is overnutrition and undernutrition among children. Overnutrition leads to early occurrence of NCD like diabetes and hypertension.”

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