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April 13, 2021

Teenagers developing diabetes in Pakistan, warn experts

Karachi

April 13, 2021

Teenagers as young as 13 to 15 years have started developing type 2 diabetes in Pakistan, experts claimed on Monday, and advised the people to revert to active lifestyle by staying away from screens, resort to 40-50 minutes’ daily exercise and eat a healthy and balanced diet to avoid getting the chronic illness.

“We are extremely depressed to see teenagers as young as 13 to 15 years of age developing type 2 diabetes in Pakistan. Girls are more prone to developing type 2 diabetes as compared to boys in Pakistan, but we are seeing an increasing number of teenagers coming up with type 2 diabetes in the country,” said Dr Nadeem Naeem, consultant diabetologist, at news briefing following a diabetes screening camp at the Karachi Press Club (KPC) on Monday.

The diabetes screening camp was organised by the Ehad Medical Centre in collaboration with the ‘Discovering Diabetes’ project at the KPC, where press club members, employees and their family members were screened for diabetes, blood pressure, uric acid, body mass index, bone mass density and cholesterol. Consultant physicians were also present to offer consultation to patients and pre-diabetics.

Diabetologist Dr Nadeem Naeem said Pakistan is currently facing an epidemic of diabetes, where over 20 to 25 million adults are living with diabetes. He warned that due to a sedentary lifestyle and poor eating habits, youngsters and teenagers are also developing diabetes these days in the country, which is an extremely alarming situation.

“Earlier, we used to see people developing diabetes in their 40s, then in 30s, but it is now very common in 20s and even among teenagers. This situation can lead to serious repercussions for the Pakistani nation,” Dr Naeem said and added that people would have to rethink their priorities and come up with a strategy to save themselves and their children from this chronic, lifestyle illness.

Speaking about fasting in Ramazan, he said fasting is extremely good for overweight people, pre-diabetics and those who have recently been diagnosed with diabetes. He added that people with moderate and severe diabetes should consult their physicians prior to the start of the holy month of Ramazan so that their medicines and diet could be adjusted in accordance with their health conditions.

“I also want to tell people that if their sugar level drops below 70, they should break their fast, and if their sugar level is above 300, they should also break their fast. Testing sugar and getting insulin are permissible while fasting.”

An eminent public health expert and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Ehad Medical Centre, Dr Babar Saeed Khan said that as around 20 to 25 per cent of adults are living with diabetes in Pakistan and many of them are unaware of their disease, they have come up with a ‘Discovering Diabetes’ project where people can call on a helpline to get free consultation and screening of diabetes.

“Once a person calls on Discovering Diabetes helpline 0800-66766, they are asked four simple questions about their age, family history, waist circumference, and if it is suspected that they can be diabetics, they are advised to consult a local diagnostic centre where free screening is available while free teleconsultation is also provided to such patients.”

To a query, he said Ehad Medical Centre is a patient-centric health solution where all the health facilities are available under one-roof. He added that during the pandemic, they have come up with the concept of virtual health where patients are provided medical consultation online, while severely sick patients are also treated at their homes.

Dr Anam Dayem, lead of telehealth at Ehad Medical Centre, said over 250 people are dying daily in Pakistan due to complications of diabetes in Pakistan, which is much more than the deaths due to Covid-19 in the country. She called for taking diabetes seriously on national, provincial levels as well as by the common people.

“One in every four persons is diabetic in Pakistan and now even youngsters are developing type 2 diabetes. In these circumstances, there is an urgent need to create awareness about this disease and promote telemedicine and telehealth facilities to provide health services to the majority of people,” she said and urged the authorities to take advantage of the health services, including the discovering diabetes project by the private sector.