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Catching ’em young: Docs enlist teachers to check diabetes in students

Sahil Jha (name changed), 14, spent almost three hours every day on social networking websites and online gaming. When he was not chatting online, he would watch television shows and play virtual cricket on his playstation.

health and fitness Updated: May 07, 2012 01:34 IST

Sahil Jha (name changed), 14, spent almost three hours every day on social networking websites and online gaming. When he was not chatting online, he would watch television shows and play virtual cricket on his playstation.

Little did the Class 9 student know that the burgers, sandwiches and colas he was gulping down while relaxing at home, would lead to Type 2 diabetes—a condition that was irreversible.

“Fast food with high caloric density, lack of activity and stress arising from high expectations have made Type 2 diabetes a common condition in several children. If one has to make an endeavour to make a lifestyle modification, efforts have to begin at the pre-school level,” said Dr Nadeem Rais, consulting endocrinologist, Chowpatty Medical Centre.

According to city doctors, there has been a steep rise in the prevalence of Type 2 diabetes in teenagers and young adults over the past three decades.

Type 2 diabetes is a metabolic disorder that is characterised by high blood glucose in the context of insulin resistance and relative insulin deficiency.

It is the most common form of diabetes. In contrast, in Type 1 diabetes, there is an absolute insulin deficiency due to destruction of islet cells in the pancreas.

“The average weight of a school-going child today is much more than it was 15 years ago,” said Dr Tushar Rege, a diabetic surgeon. “Since diabetes per se does not manifest itself as many symptoms, the condition is detected late, leading to several complications,” he added.

For doctors, creating awareness and motivating the young lot to modify their lifestyle is one of the biggest challenges.

“For children, the concept of entertainment has changed. It is quite

difficult for only medical practitioners to motivate children to alter their lifestyles completely,” said Dr Manoj Chadha, endocrinologist, Hinduja Hospital.

“School teachers play a very important role in instilling discipline among children. Hence, several doctors have started going to schools to test the students for their weight and blood sugar levels along with the help of teachers,” said Dr Chadha.