Are you based in Bali, Indonesia, like we are? If you are, you might have heard about the shocking data recently released by the Indonesian Pediatric Association (IDAI) regarding the rising number of diabetes cases in children.
The number of diabetes cases in children in Indonesia has increased by 70 times as of January 2023 compared to 2010, with over 40 percent found in children between 10-14 years old.
This highly alarming rise has triggered many parents to take a long hard look at their children’s lifestyle, especially their diet.
In this article, we aim to share the basics every parent needs to know about the types of diabetes, diabetes in children, and its prevention.
What are the types of diabetes?
There are three major types of diabetes: type 1 and type 2 diabetes, and gestational diabetes. All types cause blood sugar to rise to abnormally high levels.
Type 1 diabetes can happen at any age but is generally diagnosed from early childhood to the late 30s. Type 1 diabetes causes your pancreas to be unable to produce insulin. The only treatment for type 1 diabetes is insulin treatment to achieve normal or near-normal blood sugar levels.
Type 2 diabetes is by far the most common type of diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is when a person can not produce enough insulin to be properly used by the body. That leads to the level of blood sugar becoming too high. Generally, this type of diabetes affects adults. However, type 2 diabetes has now become a growing problem for the youth, not only in Indonesia but in various countries around the world.
Gestational diabetes is high blood sugar that can occur during pregnancy and normally ends after giving birth.
What are the symptoms of diabetes in children?
Symptoms of type 2 diabetes are not always obvious. In children, these symptoms may develop so slowly that they are unnoticeable for a while. That is why sometimes the diagnosis of type 2 diabetes happens after a routine medical check-up.
However, some children with high blood sugar levels have shown the following signs and symptoms:
- Feeling very thirsty
- Increased urination, especially at night
- Increased hunger
- Feeling more tired than usual
- Frequent infections
- Darkened areas of skin, usually around the neck, armpits, and groin
- Blurred eyesight
- Unintended weight loss
Furthermore, your child is also at risk for type 2 diabetes if they have a Body Mass Index (BMI) above the 85th percentile.
How do you prevent type 2 diabetes in children?
To prevent or treat type 2 diabetes, first and foremost, you need to modify your child’s lifestyle. It is time to honestly review your family’s eating habits. Think about what is in your cupboard. What is your child’s go-to snack? How many sugary drinks does your child have in a day or week? How large are your child’s daily meal portions?
All those things, especially combined, have a tremendous effect on your child’s health and risk for type 2 diabetes. Therefore, make sure to opt for healthier foods that are low in sugar and also reduce the consumption of carbohydrates (because it increases blood sugar).
Aside from a healthy diet, it is crucial that your child is physically active. A sedentary lifestyle from an early age can only make matters worse. Thus, limit screen time, and make sure your precious ones spend at least one hour daily engaging in physical activity.
Also, if your child needs insulin to bring their blood sugar levels down now, that does not necessarily mean they will have to rely on insulin for the rest of their lives. Therefore, modifying their lifestyle ASAP is essential.
We hope we have inspired you to modify your family’s, and especially your children’s, lifestyle for the better. And if it has been a while since you had a routine check-up, our English-speaking team of doctors at Prime Plus Medical in Canggu is ready to assist you.