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JIS News

The Ministry of Health and Environment, is promoting healthy lifestyle practises to reduce or prevent the incidence of diabetes in children. Approximately 2 per cent of adolescents between 15 and 19 years old in Jamaica have diabetes.
Medical Epidemiologist for Chronic Disease and Injuries, Dr. Tamu Davidson-Sadler, said that a growing number of Jamaican children are being diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes, which is a condition typically found in adults 40 years and older.
“Type 2 diabetes is due mainly to obesity, poor nutrition and physical inactivity and that’s a major health concern for us because we know that this is preventable,” said Dr. Davidson-Sadler.
In making the distinction between the Types 1 and 2 diabetes, she explained that the Type 1 condition, which is common in adolescents and children, is the inability or limited ability of the body to produce insulin. “This usually requires daily injections of insulin as the cells that make insulin are destroyed,” she informed. This type of diabetes, she added, is not preventable.
With Type 2 diabetes, the body is unable to properly use the insulin it produces. However, Dr. Davidson-Sadler noted that, “some studies have shown that approximately 58 per cent of the cases diagnosed can be prevented or delayed by practising a healthy lifestyle. In general, 95 per cent of all persons with diabetes have Type 2 diabetes.”
In order to significantly reduce this current trend, the Ministry of Health and Environment official is urging parents of children with diabetes, to guide their young ones into adopting and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
“The main thing to emphasise is that diabetes is a chronic disease; it is a lifelong disease. We are looking to these children going into adulthood with the disease and right through their life cycle,” Dr. Davidson-Sadler pointed out.
While acknowledging that there is a genetic predisposition to Type 2 diabetes, she stressed that the type of lifestyle that an individual leads also plays a pivotal role in controlling, preventing or delaying the onset of symptoms.
As such, she pointed out that the Ministry of Health and Environment is working through its Healthy Lifestyle Programme, to promote good nutrition and physical activity as ways of preventing the onset of lifestyle diseases such as diabetes, obesity and hypertension. “We have a very broad programme that extends from prevention to treatment and screening of persons with diabetes,” she noted.
Meanwhile, Dr. Davidson-Sadler also informed that diabetes is on the rise in Jamaica, having increased by 0.6 per cent between 2000 and 2008. “Based on the Jamaica Healthy Lifestyle Survey 2000, approximately 8 per cent of our population had diabetes. However, the Interim Jamaica Healthy Lifestyle Survey for 2008, has shown that 8.6 per cent of persons in the 15-74 age group are living with diabetes,” she revealed.
On November 14, countries across the world observed World Diabetes Day, under the theme: ‘Diabetes in Children and Adolescents’. The global targets for 2008, Dr. Davidson-Sadler told JIS News, are to increase the number of children supported by the International Diabetes Federation’s ‘Life for a Child Programme’, to raise the awareness of the warning signs of diabetes, and promote healthy lifestyle to help prevent Type 2 Diabetes.
Educational talks, exhibitions, community meetings and school visits were held across the Ministry’s four health regions to mark World Diabetes Day.