Diabetes in Indian Teenagers

Let’s start off with some basics.

Diabetes (also known as Diabetes Mellitus) is a group of diseases that result in excess sugar in the blood (high blood glucose). The most common types of diabetes are Prediabetes, Type 1 Diabetes, Type 2 Diabetes, Gestational Diabetes.

As per 2016 statistics, diabetes currently affects around 143 million people and in India, approximately 5% of the population suffers from diabetes.

Medical Research has also shown that Indians are more likely to develop diabetes as they tend to put on weight around the belly area. That being said, most of India’s diabetes cases are Type 2, often occurring when extra weight limits the body’s ability to produce or use insulin to turn food into energy. By comparison, Type 1 diabetes is a natural inability to produce insulin.

According to an article published in the Times of India, diabetes has become a major concern in Indian teenagers. If we see the bigger picture, over the past few decades due to rapid globalization, economic growth and our inclination towards the western culture, we prefer eating junk food over traditional Indian meals, we prefer vehicles over walking and spend hours watching TV or browsing the internet instead of indulging in physical exercise. These lifestyle changes have drastically affected teenagers between the age group of 12-18 years.

Tripti Gupta, lifestyle nutritionist consultant says "Ten per cent cases of children and teenagers who are consulting me for obesity, sports nutrition, nutritional deficiencies, stunted growth and lack of stamina are also suffering from diabetes, which is getting increasingly common."

Research has suggested that nearly one in four urban Indian teenagers aged 12-18 years is on the verge of developing diabetes. Obesity increases the chances of diabetes and according to the Health Ministry Statistics, nearly 30% of India’s teenagers are obese, nearly twice the number in 2010.

A study conducted over a span of 3 years starting in 2012 by Fortis Hospital’s SRL Laboratories across Indian children have shown that out of 17,000 school going children in urban cities, 66 percent of them had abnormal blood sugar levels which is one of the major symptoms of diabetes.

.However, it is the duty of parents to keep diabetes in check when it comes to their children. There are certain things they can do like:

Keeping a check on their child’s weight: Restricting overconsumption of junk food and encouraging them to indulge in sports and other physical activities can help in keeping diabetes away.

Be aware of associated conditions: Some conditions like PCOD can lead to obesity which can, in turn, lead to diabetes. It is best for parents to be informed and look for signs and symptoms of diabetes in their children. Regular check ups with a doctor is a must.

Be supportive: For a teenager, diabetes can be a difficult thing to live with as they might feel like it is the end of the world and they might fall prey to depression, embarrassment, etc. In such times, it is very important for parents to support their child and accept their condition.

Make lifestyle changes: Make your child realize that you’ve got his back by making lifestyle changes for the entire family. Stock your kitchen with healthy food, indulge in family sports, have your meals on time, go for family outings, etc.

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