BY DANFES, AGENCY
Type 2 diabetes, the most common form of the illness, is on the rise among children under 15-years-old, with altered lifestyles and bad food habits increasing their vulnerability to the ailment, experts say.
"Type 2 diabetes which is generally associated with adults is now on the rise among children. The children these days are mostly into junk food and remain hooked to computers and TV, ignoring physical activities like sports. This is making them prone to the disease," nutrition specialist Hena Nafis said.
Nafis said the number of children suffering from diabetes in the country was more than 70,000 with majority of them affected by type 1 diabetes, commonly known as juvenile diabetes, while the percentage of type 2 diabetes is gradually rising.
"In type 1 the immune system of the body attacks and destroys the insulin producing cells resulting in the sugar remaining unabsorbed in the body. Exact reasons for this are still a matter of research. Healthy lifestyle and food habits though can reduce the chances of catching type 2," said paediatrician Sharmila Gupta.
In type 2 of the disease the fat, liver, and muscle cells do not respond correctly to insulin. As a result, blood sugar does not get into these cells to be stored for energy.
Gupta and Nafis were present at an awareness programme for schoolchildren organised at the city's Bhagirathi Neotia Woman & Child Care Centre Friday.
Gupta cited excessive thirst and urine discharge, extreme hunger, unexplained weight loss and increased fatigue as the major symptoms of the disease.
She also said there was a need for spreading awareness about disease. "A child with type 1 has to inject insulin regularly which often causes people to attach a social stigma to him, ultimately leading the kid to depression. People, especially children, need to be made aware that those kids are as normal as others."
On the life expectancy of a diabetic child, Nafis said with proper monitoring and following due precautions and medication a child can live a normal life.
She also said pot belly in children could be a sign of impending disease. "Pot belly is caused when excessive sugar gets deposited in the belly. It is a warning sign and the parents must rush to a doctor. It can be a sign of the impending disease."