Authored by Dr. Mahesh D M, Consultant – Endocrinology, Aster CMI Hospital, Bangalore
A chronic illness that affects millions of individuals worldwide, including children, is diabetes. There has been a worrying increase in childhood diabetes cases in India in recent years. With more than a million cases, India has the second-highest rate of childhood diabetes worldwide, according to the International Diabetes Federation (IDF). India also saw the highest number of childhood diabetes cases and deaths in 2019 in the world, according to a study published in the journal JAMA Network.
For decades, childhood diabetes generally implied type 1 diabetes. However, an increasing prevalence of type 2 diabetes in children is being recorded.
Understanding the Surge
The rise in childhood diabetes in India is caused by a number of causes. These consist of:
● Changes in lifestyle: Children in India are becoming more and more inactive and eating unhealthily. For instance, a lot of kids spend more time playing video games and watching TV than they do in outdoor activities, games and exercises. Children in India are also consuming more processed foods and sugar-filled beverages.
● Obesity: A significant risk factor for diabetes is obesity. Regrettably, there is an increasing incidence of childhood obesity in India.
● Genetic predisposition: Children are more likely to develop diabetes if there is a family history of the illness.
The Impact of Childhood Diabetes
Children’s health and well-being can be greatly affected by diabetes. Diabetes may also be detrimental to children’s mental and psychological well-being. Further, delayed diagnosis and treatment of childhood Diabetes increases the risk of complications like heart disease, stroke, renal damage, and blindness to occur in their early adulthood
Identifying Risk Factors
Typical risk factors for diabetes in children include:
● Family history of diabetes
● Sedentary lifestyle
● Poor dietary habits
● Certain medical conditions, such as gestational diabetes and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
Prevention Starts at Home
When it comes to avoiding paediatric diabetes, parents are essential. The following advice is for parents:
● Encourage wholesome family practices like consistent exercise and a well-balanced diet.
● Make it a point to get your children involved in outdoor activities for at least an hour each day.
● Don’t let your kids spend more than two hours a day on screens.
● Give your kids wholesome, well-balanced meals inclusive of fibre rich wholesome grains, vegetables and fruits. Steer clear of processed foods, sugar-filled beverages, and high amounts of harmful and saturated fats.
● Arrange for routine examinations with your child’s pediatrician.
Tips for Parents
The following useful advice can help parents lower their child’s risk of developing diabetes:
● Make sure your diet is well-balanced and full of nutritious grains, fruits, and veggies.
● Minimise sugary drinks and snacks.
● Urge your kids to engage in physical activity.
● Set an example for your kids by living a healthy lifestyle yourself.
Promoting Regular Health Check-ups
In order to avoid complications, diabetes must be diagnosed and treated as soon as possible. Parents should make an appointment for their child to see a doctor, particularly if the child has any diabetes risk factors like obesity, PCOS, family history of diabetes.
Talking to their kids about childhood diabetes and its risk factors can help parents spread knowledge about the illness. They can also inspire their kids to be physically active and make good decisions.
Diabetes in children is a significant medical illness that would affect the social and financial health of the entire family, but with the right guidance, it can be prevented and controlled. By modelling healthy behaviours for their children and advocating healthy choices for the family, parents can significantly reduce the risk of childhood diabetes. We can give our kids a healthy future when we band together.