In an alarming revelation, the World Health Organization (WHO) discloses that approximately 77 million adults in India grapple with type 2 diabetes, and a staggering 25 million are classified as prediabetic, placing them at a heightened risk of developing diabetes in the near future. What’s even more disconcerting is the surge in occurrences of type 2 diabetes among children, specifically among adolescents aged 12 to 18.
Traditionally associated with older adults, type 2 diabetes is undergoing a disturbing shift in its demographic profile, infiltrating the younger population at an unprecedented rate. Dr. Sajili Mehta, a distinguished Senior Consultant in Pediatric Endocrinology at the prestigious Surya Mother and Child Super Speciality Hospital in Pune, sheds light on this phenomenon in an exclusive interview with HT Lifestyle. She points out, “The root cause of this concerning trend is the escalating prevalence of obesity among both children and young adults.”
The underlying factors behind the rise in childhood obesity are multifaceted. Dr. Mehta elaborates, “The surge in childhood obesity primarily stems from sedentary lifestyles and unhealthy dietary choices. However, genetic predisposition and ethnic factors also play a significant role in the development of this condition. Notably, individuals of South Asian descent face a heightened susceptibility to this disease.”
Characterized by insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes is a persistent metabolic disorder. In individuals afflicted by this condition, the body’s cells do not effectively respond to insulin produced by the pancreas. Insulin, a pivotal hormone, orchestrates the regulation of blood sugar levels by facilitating the absorption of glucose from the bloodstream into cells, subsequently generating energy.
Dr. Sajili Mehta underscores proactive measures to thwart the onset of type 2 diabetes in children. She emphasizes, “Fostering a healthy lifestyle is paramount – this entails consuming well-balanced meals, curtailing the consumption of sugary beverages and processed foods, and engaging in regular physical activity. Striking a balance between screen time and physical well-being is imperative. Moreover, cultivating a nurturing environment that champions and exemplifies healthy choices is pivotal. Children are more inclined to adopt and sustain positive lifestyle habits when they witness their loved ones embracing these practices.”
- Disturbing Shift: Type 2 diabetes, historically prevalent among older adults, is increasingly affecting children and adolescents aged 12 to 18.
- Obesity Epidemic: Escalating childhood obesity rates are propelled by sedentary behavior, unhealthy dietary preferences, genetic factors, and ethnic vulnerability.
- Insulin Resistance: Type 2 diabetes is characterized by insulin resistance, where the body’s cells do not respond adequately to pancreatic insulin.
- South Asian Vulnerability: Ethnicity, particularly among South Asians, contributes to a heightened susceptibility to type 2 diabetes.
- Prevention Strategies: Encouraging a wholesome lifestyle encompassing balanced meals, limited sugary and processed foods, regular exercise, and managed screen time is vital to averting type 2 diabetes in children.
As the landscape of health evolves, confronting type 2 diabetes among India’s youth necessitates collective efforts and informed choices. With Dr. Sajili Mehta’s guidance, a healthier and more resilient future can be nurtured.