Children as young as 12 to 15 years of age are now contracting type-2 diabetes in different cities of Pakistan due to unhealthy lifestyle, obesity caused by consuming junk food and sugary drinks, and avoiding physical activities, endocrinologists and diabetologists said on Thursday.
They added that the number of people living with diabetes was increasing every year in Pakistan while the average age in which people were contracting diabetes was also getting lower in the country, due to which teenagers getting diagnosed with diabetes had become a routine.
“A few years back, it was unimaginable that children and teenagers could become type-2 diabetics but nowadays, children as young as 12 to 15 years are getting diagnosed for the lifestyle disease on a weekly basis. Causes of type-2 diabetes among children and teenagers is sedentary lifestyle, obesity, poor eating habits and avoidance of physical activities,” Dr Saiful Haq, diabetologist associated with the Ehad Medical Centre Karachi, told a news conference.
Accompanied by the Dow University of Health Sciences (DUHS) Vice Chancellor (VC) Prof Saeed Quraishy, Dr Haq said diabetes was spreading like wildfire in Pakistan where according to the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), over 33 million people were diabetics and around four hundred people died every year due to complications of the lifestyle disease.
“But I believe that the number of people with diabetes in Pakistan would be much higher as the IDF survey was conducted in 2019 and after three years, the number of people living with diabetes could be around 40 million,” the expert observed, adding that there was an immediate need to collect data of obese children who are destined to become diabetics unless their lifestyle was changed.
Speaking about the newly-inaugurated branch of the Ehad Medical Centre in North Nazimabad, Dr Haq said they would try to prevent the children of diabetics from contracting the disease as the family history was one of the leading risk factors for diabetes in Pakistan.
“Our studies have revealed that a child has a tendency to become diabetic before coming into this world if he or she is overweight or underweight at the time of birth or has not been given mother’s feed”, he observed.
The DUHS VC said the newly inaugurated branch was a specialised diabetes centre where diabetic foot clinic had also been established. He expressed the hope that the centre would help reduce amputations due to complications of diabetes.
Lauding the initiative, Prof Quraishy said primary health care was the key to prevent people from becoming chronically sick.
“There is an immediate need to invest in the primary healthcare in our country as our tertiary-care hospitals both in the public and private sector are overburdened with patients who don’t need to go to large hospitals for minor, easy-to-treat and easy-to-manage health conditions,” he added.