The scourge of diabetes: Children are not getting key health checks

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The world over, diabetes is spreading at exponential rates. Diabetes is one of the most potent symbols of lifestyle diseases and the most worrisome aspect of this health crisis is the rate at which children are falling prey to this disease. Children as young as six have been found to be suffering from diabetes. It is tragic that at an age when children should be carefree and happy, they are learning to monitor blood sugar, give injections and count carbohydrates.

Diabetes is a lifelong condition and once an individual is diagnosed with the disease, management of the disease is the only way forward and failure to adhere to the prescribed medication schedule is fraught with dangerous implications. Diabetes can affect nearly every organ of the body  and a sustained effort is required to keep it under control otherwise the patient is vulnerable to a host of complications such as blindness and amputation to name a few.

In light of these facts, a recent study indicating that almost 75% of older children in England and Wales with diabetes were not being tested for key health checks is shocking to say the least.  Aside from the  frightening complications that could arise from poor management of diabetes which make a lifetime screening for complications absolutely mandatory,  medical experts aver that  regular checks for children are all the more important because complications recognized early are more amenable to interventions that can reduce progression.

The world, particularly the developing countries seems to be veering away from healthy eating and gravitating more towards unhealthy fast foods.  The result is that lifestyle diseases like diabetes are now taking their toll and the statistics are astounding.

According to the American Diabetes Association, in 2012, America the birthplace of fast food had  29.1 million Americans or 9.3% of the population diagnosed  with diabetes while 1.4 million Americans are diagnosed with diabetes every year. According to WHO, the number of adults living with diabetes has almost quadrupled since 1980 to 422 million adults and the primary factors driving this rise, attributed mostly to Type two diabetes is obesity and being overweight. If adults are eating unhealthy food, children naturally will follow suit because they depend on adults for the food being placed on the table.

According to experts, a child has a 1 in 7 chance of developing diabetes if one parent was diagnosed before age 50 and a 1 in 13 chance if the parent was diagnosed after age 50. Adults are turning out to be poor role models for children in food choices. Children are being conditioned at a young age to eat processed foods high in fat and low in fibre and diabetes is the price they are paying for the ignorance of the adults.