New Delhi: If you are under the impression that diabetes is an old man's disease, you are wrong. More and more children are falling prey to this lifestyle disease and doctors say it is best to screen children too. The theme of this year's World Diabetes Day, being observed on Wednesday, is 'Protect Our Future'. "There has been an increase in the number of patients coming to clinics for diabetes screening in the last decade. The number of young people falling prey to the disease is also increasing," said I P S Kochar, paediatric and adolescent endocrinologist and diabetologist at Fortis Hospital here.
Type I diabetes, which is not lifestyle-induced, is more common among children. Doctors say the issue of concern, however, is the rising cases of Type II diabetes, which occurs due to lifestyle disorders. "Type I diabetes is when the pancreas doesn't create insulin, and that is what mostly affects children. But these days, we are also seeing Type II diabetes, which is when insulin is secreted but fails to work. This type is lifestyle-induced," Jean Claude Mbanya, president of the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), told IANS.
According to IDF, there are over 61 million patients of diabetes in India. The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) says there are about a million children with Type I diabetes in India. Mbanya blamed sedentary lifestyle for it. "Our children are becoming obese. The prevalence of diabetes is on the increase because of increasing weight and lack of activity," he said.
Wondering how children could be encouraged to be more active, the IDF president said: "Where are the playgrounds? How do we motivate our children to lead a healthy lifestyle?" Kochar said there was an average increase of one to four percent in the incidence of Type I diabetes and four to six percent in the case of Type II diabetes over the past decade. Listing symptoms, Kochar said: "If the child is drinking too much water, urinating more frequently than he used to, has gained weight, or feels hungry more frequently, it is a warning sign."
Archana Dayal Arya, consultant endocrinologist and diabetologist at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital recommends regular screening after the age of ten. "Parents need to watch that children are not overweight. After the age of 10, regular screening should be done, especially if symptoms are noticed," she said.
According to A K Jhingan, chairperson of the Delhi Diabetes Research Centre, the disease is more common among children in metros than in rural areas. "Children in urban centres, specially in a metropolis like Delhi, are more prone to diabetes, as the lifestyle is flawed and physical activity sometimes nil," he said.