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Rabu, November 26, 2008

Diabetes Risk Higher In Chubby Children

KUALA LUMPUR - Chubby children are certainly cute to look at but unfortunately they are in greater risk for diabetes.

Thus a healthy diet and lifestyle from very young are on the top of the list of advice from those in the know.

"This is definitely easier said than done," says a medical practitioner on the best advice for obese children who are at high risk and how to inculcate the right eating habits.

"In inculcating good eating habits it should involve the whole family. What is consumed by the parents generally is consumed by the children plus their favourite snacks, fast food and so on," says Dr Fuziah Md Zain who is with the Putrajaya Hospital's Pediatric Department.

She says, her observation pointed that the obese children are normally the youngest or the eldest, as they are the pampered ones, and the other siblings between them are usually normal in body weight.

Dr Fuziah added that in conjunction with World Diabetes Day last year, several obese children and their parents were invited for a talk on obesity and its link with diabetes.

An aerobic session was held to make the event more livelier and at the same time they were reminded why exercise is important, the dangers of diabetes and why it is important to take care of their diet.

This year the Diabetes Day was commemorated on Nov 14 with the theme `Diabetes Among Children and Adolescents'.

Diabetes is a chronic disease that can occur in children of all ages including those in the pre-school age.

The Endocrinology Unit of Putrajaya Hospital with the cooperation of Novo Nordisk Pharma (M) Sdn Bhd commemorated the day at KLCC here with the hopes of getting the attention of the parents and children on the dangers of the chronic disease.


Diabetes in childhood increases the risk of other complications like cardiovascular disease and premature death, blindness, kidney failure and neurological damage.

When diabetes is diagnosed in young people, life expectancy is shortened by an average of 10 to 20 years. The report says children die early because of high blood sugar levels resulting from inaccurate diagnosis, lack of insulin or lack of expert care.

"The diabetes threat on children is on the rise," said Dr Fuziah on diabetes among those below 20, especially Type 2 diabetes which is almost unheard of before in children.

In Type 2 Diabetes, the body may not produce enough insulin (which helps the body utilise glucose), or the insulin that the body produces does not work as well as it should, or the body may release too much glucose from stored sources.


Based on the records of the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), annually there are about 70,000 children under 15 diagnosed with diabetes with extrapolation pointing that up to 200 children are diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes daily.

"Thus we must change our perception that a plump figure makes one looks cute," says Dr Fuziah.

The Putrajaya Hospital is concerned with rising obesity and therefore conducts obesity clinics monthly to monitor and provide counseling to its patients.

"We want to make sure they return home and do the right thing with their diet, lifestyle, medication and so on," adds Dr Fuziah.

However, convincing the obese children to exercise daily is definitely not easy, especially in Malaysia where the hot and humid weather, and the lack of playground are often the excuse not to exercise and instead indulge in computer and video games.

At the same time, obese parents are also advised on the dangers of their condition and the risk of diabetes.

Obesity, added with poor eating habits like eating food that is rich in fats, sugar, salt and carbohydrate, puts one in a greater risk of diabetes. Also those who spend much time in front of television or indulging in computer games rather than outdoor activities are also at risk.

Those with a family history of diabetes should be more cautious.


Asked if there has been any changes in the obese children after undergoing counseling, Dr Fuziah admits that not many are earnest in effecting a change.

But she keeps them on the toes by meeting up with them once in three months to check their body weight, height and so on and continue with the advice and encouragement to change.

Dr Fuziah is also involved in the DiCARE (Diabetes in Children and Adolescents Registry) that identifies and registers diabetic children so that they can be monitored and treated.

From 2006 to mid 2007, about 240 children had registered with DiCARE and the registration can be done online.


Meanwhile, in promoting Living Well With Diabetes campaign, a pharmaceutical firm Merck Sharp and Dohme (MSD) for the second time this year with the assistance of the Malaysian Diabetic Association held the event in conjunction with the World Diabetes Day to encourage Malaysians to adopt a healthy lifestyle.

The emphasis of the campaign is a healthy diet. During last year's campaign the sugar-lite teh tarik was introduced, this year the media was enlisted to prepare a healthy diet.

Members of the media were taken to an interactive grocery store and given tips on how to read food labels and purchase food items according to recipes given to them.

"Wholesome and healthy meals can easily be prepared using the usual ingredients and that is what we want to stress at this workshop. All that is needed is a little inventiveness by adopting healthier ingredients and cooking styles to turn our favourite dishes into healthy servings," said Nicholas Pillai, a food and beverage consultant.

Dr Fuziah says that in overcoming obesity and the diabetic risk, she always emphasises the involvement of the whole family in achieving the desired results. -
By Rohana Mustaffa

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