Diabetes :: Rise in diabetic cases among children in India

The rise in diabetic cases among children in India has alarmed health experts who caution against decreasing physical activity among the children, especially of the middle class.

Diabetes mellitus is a condition in which the pancreas no longer produces enough insulin or when cells stop responding to the insulin that is produced, so that glucose in the blood cannot be absorbed into the cells of the body. Symptoms include frequent urination, lethargy, excessive thirst, and hunger. The treatment includes changes in diet, oral medications, and in some cases, daily injections of insulin.

“Diabetes in children is increasing, primarily due to increase in childhood obesity. Rapid urbanization and economic growth creates social dynamics that promote diabetes risk factors. These include over-weight, decrease in physical activity, increase in sedentary activities such as television viewing and high fat and high energy diet,” says Anoop Misra, Director, Department of Diabetes and Metabolic diseases, Fortis Hospitals.

According to market research firm ORG-MARG report, the sale of anti-obesity drugs in 2006-2007, prescribed by doctors, has grown by around 44 per cent compared to 2005-2006.

Health Ministry figures say that there are 37.8 million cases of diabetics in India and it accounts for 1.09 lakhs deaths per year. However, the exact number of diabetes cases among children is not available.

“It is a growing concern. World Health Organisation (WHO) has already predicted that by 2030 India will have 80 million diabetic patients out of a world figure of 366 million and also remarked India as a diabetes capital of the world,” says Ritu Rana, Consultant, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

An independent study conducted by Delhi Diabetes Research Centre (DDRC) claims that prevalence of obesity has doubled in children in the past 15-20 years. About 85 per cent children diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes are overweight or obese, it says.

There is currently no cure for diabetes; the condition, however, can be managed so that patients can live a relatively normal life. Treatment of diabetes focuses on two goals: keeping blood glucose within normal range and preventing the development of long-term complications. Careful monitoring of diet, exercise, and blood glucose levels are as important as the use of insulin or oral medications in preventing complications of diabetes.

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