Menace of childhood obesity and diabetes across India

 Summary: 

  • Diabetes is striking early- Indian kids as young as 9-10 yrs are suffering from an epidemic of type 1 diabetes and life-threatening morbid obesity.
  • In 2019, Diabetes shot up from 30% to 45% all across affluent families and private school children.
  • In the garb of love, parents are silently gifting their children the slow poison of death.
  • Frequent urination, unexplained weight loss, blurred vision, increased thirst and sugar intake are symptoms of insulin deficiency and diabetes in children.
  • Timely checkups, proper diagnosis, follow-up with CDE, balance diet & lifestyle modification can reduce risk factors and complications

Your child has a craving for sweets and sugar-loaded treats? Who doesn’t?! It’s hard to resist those sugary, attractive looking treats, advertised by our favourite celebrity or cartoon character? What the food industry has done with sweets is pretty clever but also misleading and downright unethical. Only recently has the world awakened to the fact that sugar has devastated many families and children. Indian kids have been served a platter of death by their overly indulgent parents with total disregard to physical activity, lifestyle and balanced diet. With 14.4 million children obese across India, 98 million people are at extreme risk of type 2 diabetes within the next decade (2030). 

The Platter of Death

Pre-independence India had a dark and long history of hunger, malnutrition and drought and our grandparents and parents bore the brutal effects of these conditions. When it came to their progeny- our generation, they tried to give the best that they could in every which way,  kind of overcompensating for all the wrongs and deprivation that their ilk had to go through. Out of all that love and affection, came the sweet poison, that has affected our children  badly and the  prevalence of diabetes has increased from 30% to 45% in affluent households.

Inherited Sweetness

All parents want to provide the best of education, clothes and food for their children. In their zeal to do so, they end up over-protecting and bubble-wrapping children from any hardships, thereby, creating an adverse lifestyle of physical inactivity, eating disorders and a sheltered cosy existence. They struggle hard every day to give them a life of luxury and abundance and also leave substantial assets in terms of inheritance. Are money and property, the only inheritance that they are gifting them? Think again – A life of sloth, over indulgence and inactivity has turned them into virtual couch potatoes, prone to early onset of  type-1 diabetes in adolescents. Where have those days gone when the child would carry their backpack on their own shoulders, swinging their Milton bottles, on their way back from the bus-stop to home in the afternoons?! Nowadays, the nannies and maids are the only one who can be seen lugging that extra weight on their backs, while the kids gambols ahead, slurping the big ice-cream cone or slush-smoothie.

Even the World Health Organisation has termed India as one of the most diabetes prone countries 

This also means that the risk of long-term chronic diseases associated with diabetes has increased for children affected by this disease.

So what next ? 

Are we waiting for slow death to take its toll? Or is there anything we can do about it?

As a way  forward, we need to Monitor, Prevent and Delay Onset of Diabetes.

To effectively monitor the onset of diabetes we need to look at patterns in a child’s health and  his daily behaviour.It is crucial to look for any and every symptom of insulin deficiency. These may include:

  • Increased thirst and frequent urination
  • Unexplained & sudden weight loss,
  • Fatigue and increased hunger
  • Fruity-smelling breath
  • Blurred vision
  • Hyperglycaemia
  • Behavioural mood changes and irritability
  • Genital yeast infection and rashes

If any of these symptoms are found in the child, it is best to consult a physician with complete family medical history.  Oftentimes children are a replica of their parents in more ways than one, especially in terms of their health. Everything they inherit during their early development years can be  linked to their parental gene pool. Unlike type-2 diabetes, type-1 diabetes in childhood is genetic and poses an increased risk if the family has a history of diabetes.

 Prevention is better than cure- cliched! Yet thetime tested adage still holds.

Our children are the most precious and  better part of our lives, so how are we going to prevent the occurrence of diabetes and protect them?

Well! In case of family history, intervention at  the right time – at an early age, can be effected by inculcating healthy eating habits, taking the right diet and  doing regular exercise. One can coordinate with a Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE) to chart out a personalised diabetic care plan to reduce the risks factors and complications.

Advanced diabetes care with EHR

The world is changing for the better! With an increased level of awareness around diabetes and an advancement in healthcare technologies like Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain and Big Data Analytics, we can now  effectively monitor, prevent, or at the very least, delay the onset of diabetes with periodic medical check and blood tests like random blood sugar test, Glycated haemoglobin (A1C) test and Fasting blood sugar test.

Advancement in modern-day diabetes care solutions has enabled us to effectively monitor  insulin levels and  prescribe the right medicines. Through  secure healthcare apps, unforeseen erratic change in insulin levels can be detected by in-time parents and caregivers. Course correction can be accurately implemented with a HIPAA complainttech-platform andthe corrected medication be delivered.

A great way are platforms providing Personalized health/medical records(PHR) to save both time and effort on ineffective trials and provide doctors with an in-depth analysis of any predisposing factors, family history, genetics, metabolism conditions, etc.so as to help with quick & effective diagnosis and timely intervention.

The 21st century is LIT and Tech-savvy!

Since everything is about customization in technology, so why shouldn’t health be personalized too?  Every child is different and so are risks for each individual. And that demands personalized healthcare management. A well-coordinated personalized diabetes care plan formulated by a doctor and shared with the parent, pharmacists and pathologists can effectively reduce the risks. Isn’t that how it should be for everyone?

And when it comes to the next generation, it is a necessity that patients have full control over their personal health records, stored in a Blockchain, with auto-transcribed reports of their conditions, treatment plans, medication history, diagnostic reports and also, artificial intelligence tools that notifie them about health problems that they are likely to encounter in future, basis predictive algorithms.

Living with fear of uncertainty, especially when it comes to the health of our children is not acceptable. Benefits of  EHR must be made available to all strata of society. It is not be a luxury or an entitlement to be afforded by the privileged only. 

The reason many tech companies fail is not a bad product/market fit, the wrong technological approach or lack of experienced CFO, but the design — not just the website UX but the design in its entirety. The way things are integrated together. The creative process.