Bitter fact: Diabetes up among kids
There is an alarming increase in the incidence of diabetes among children aged 8 to 10 thanks to poor dietary habits.
Mohamed Al-Harbi, head of diabetic centers and units at the ministry, revealed this at the launch of a nationwide campaign to raise awareness of the effects of type 2 diabetes and its complications.
“We urge people to consider the risks and take action,” said Al-Harbi. “Find out your family history, assess your diet, exercise regularly and speak to your doctor if you think you could be at risk for developing this type of diabetes.”
This age group is particularly prone to developing diabetes due to a sedentary lifestyle, since kids are now used to spending long hours in front of TV, the official said.
“Lack of exercise and eating fatty food is making children obese, a major risk factor for this disease. It is the parents’ responsibility to ensure that their children develop healthy habits, ” he said.
“Schools should place more emphasis on physical education, which is equally as important as other subjects,” he said.
Diabetes is the world’s fastest growing chronic condition that affects all age groups.
Al-Harbi reiterated that there are 20 diabetic centers across the Kingdom, with one in every region.
“We are ready to assist patients in managing and learning about this killer disease,” he said.
“The Kingdom itself has seen an explosion in the number of diabetes cases, where there is a 24-percent prevalence of diabetes, highlighting the global epidemic of the illness.”
Statistics from the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) show that six of the world’s top 10 countries with the highest prevalence of diabetes are reported in the Middle East and North African (MENA) region.
These include Kuwait, Lebanon, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE.
Globally, more than 371 million people live with the illness, of which 90 percent are type 2.
During the event, Global Healthcare leader Merck Sharp & Dohme (MSD), in partnership with the Saudi Society of Endocrine & Metabolism (SSEM), the Ministry of Health and American Diabetes Association (ADA), announced its plans to run a nationwide campaign to increase the awareness of the effects of type 2 diabetes and its complications amongst the general population and professionals in the health care sector.
The campaign focused on the importance of “training the trainer” to assist health care providers across the Kingdom. Among the advocates featured in this year’s campaign are well renowned physicians and experts from the MSD, SSEM, Health Ministry and the ADA.
The advocates will share their experiences and will host a series of educational sessions focusing on how to decrease the diabetes burden and complications while improving quality of life. “We are committed to enhancing knowledge and improving health care standards amongst society members. There are many misconceptions about diabetes and we hope that this campaign will kick-start an important conversation in our community,” said Atallah Al-Ruhaily, SSEM president.
“It is critical for health care providers to connect the dots between risk factors and disease development with their patients. We have to close the gap if we want to prevent further prevalence of this disease,” said Gordon Williams of the ADA.
The control project, introduced by the SSEM in partnership with the ADA, will focus on training people with or at risk of developing diabetes and other lifestyle-related chronic conditions to assess and manage their health conditions.
The campaign teaches patients to understand their blood sugar numbers and gives tips for controlling their disease.