Monday, July 26, 2010

Type 2 diabetes hitting children

Sunday Star July 25, 2010
Teens with Type 2 diabetes need to change eating habits

PETALING JAYA: Like most teenagers, Nurul Rahimah Abu Bakar, 14, loves ice-cream, cakes and chocolates.

Once, she would have these desserts after dinner with her family.

However, such times are no more and the family now has more salad and vegetables on their dinner table, said her mother, Zalilah Selamat, 49.

The family had to change their eating habits after Nurul Rahimah, the youngest among four siblings, was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes (T2D).

The condition normally hits those in their 50s.

When Nurul Rahimah was 11, it dawned on Zalilah that her daughter could be a diabetic as she was constantly feeling thirsty and going to the washroom to ease herself at least twice every night.

Zalilah, a diabetic since she was 35, said her daughter was going through the same symptoms that she had previously gone through.

Zalilah, whose late father also had diabetes, said Nurul Rahimah’s blood sample was sent to a laboratory in Australia for a detailed diagnosis.

The tests confirmed the teenager as a T2D.

“Since then, we have reduced the intake of processed food as Nurul Rahimah had to lose some weight,” her mother said.

Zalilah said it was difficult initially for her daughter to follow the new diet “because my family just love and enjoy all types of food”.

“However, she is now inspired to be more disciplined in controlling her diet after seeing good results in her blood sugar.

“As advised by her doctors, she has a more balanced meal made up of rice (25%), protein (25%) and vegetables (50%).

“She no longer takes sweet drinks and tries to avoid fast food,” said Zalilah.

Another young patient, Muhammad Ridzwan Rodzi, 13, was overweight by 15kg when he was diagnosed with T2D in March last year.

“He was very much into playing video games and hardly spent time playing with his friends outside of the house,” said his father Rodzi Mashor, 53.

“When he was diagnosed with the disease, his blood sugar level was very high.

“However, with oral medication and the injection of insulin three times a day, his condition has stabilised,” Rodzi said, adding that his son also controlled his diet by eating less to lose weight.

Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai advised parents not to let their children eat unhealthy food round the clock as it could lead to T2D.

Parents should prepare nutritious food instead, he said.

He was commenting on The Star’s front-page report on the increasing number of young T2D patients.

“Children enjoy fast food, so parents should educate them on cutting down burgers, nuggets, fries and carbonated drinks.

“Parents should inculcate a healthy diet from young,” he told reporters after opening the Malaysian Dietitians’ Association Scientific Conference here yesterday.

He said the National Health and Morbidity Survey conducted in 2006 showed that Malaysian adults with diabetes had increased from 8.3% in 1996 to 14.9% in 2006, while hypertension cases had increased from 29.9% to 43% and obesity from 4.4% to 14%.

The Star, Saturday July 24, 2010
Diabetes among children on the rise

KUALA LUMPUR: More young people, some as young as seven, are suffering from Type 2 diabetes (T2D), a disease that generally hits those in their 50s.

Doctors say more primary school students have been diagnosed with T2D in the last decade, a fact that is alarming since the disease is usually linked to those much older.

The doctors found that the young diabetics were usually obese, and their condition could be traced to eating too much unhealthy food and having a sedentary lifestyle.

They said the disease was not just about having excessive sugar in the blood system but could also affect the patient’s vital organs like the heart, kidneys, nerves and eyes.

“The children’s bad dietary habits of eating burgers, nuggets, fried chicken, fries and carbonated drinks are also contributing factors,” Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia Medical Centre senior consultant paediatrician and paediatric endocrinologist Prof Dr Wu Loo Ling said, adding that long hours of homework, watching television and playing computer games added to the problem.

“Cases of children and teenagers with diabetes are increasing at a faster rate,” said Dr Wu. “Between 30% and 40% of children in Western countries are overweight and the problem of overweight Malaysian children is also on the rise.”

Endocrinologist Dr Lim Soo San said T2D was more apparent in people aged between 18 and 29.

“We even came across children who are below 10 years old and have T2D ,” Dr Lim said.

The Registry on Diabetes in Children and Adolescents (2006-2007) showed that 56% of the 42 T2D cases involved obese individuals.

Dr Lim said parents continued to feed their children with “junk food” due to their lack of awareness of the disease.

Dietician Mary Easaw-John said apart from bad eating habits, irregular eating hours had also contributed to the rising trend of T2D among younger people.

“People tend to eat out instead of packing food from home nowadays. And fried food is common in eateries,” said Easaw, who is Dietetics Food Services of the National Heart Institute senior manager.

The Third National Health and Morbidity Survey, conducted in 2006, showed that there was a high prevalence of overweight primary school children, and over 20% of them were obese.

Statistics pointed that Malaysia had the fourth highest number of diabetes cases in Asia, with 800,000 in 2007. The number is expected to jump to 1.3 million cases this year.

The recent survey also revealed that more than 43% of Malaysian adults were overweight or obese, twice the figure a decade ago.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Act Fast Before It Is Too Late

July 21, 2010 16:09 PM

By Melati Mohd Ariff

The recent sugar shortage and the hike in its retail price leaves many questions unanswered. What is so great about sugar to the extent it prompts the so called wise consumers to behave like ants each time there is a run for sugar?

This three series article highlights the views on sugar. This is the second of the three series.

KUALA LUMPUR, July 21 (Bernama) -- Zairul (not his real name) is in his late twenties. His favourite game is football but that is in the past. From being a football player he has been reduced now to a mere spectator.

His once stout body has weakened, all because of the dreadful disease, diabetes that has wrecked his youth.

Still this young man should be thankful because his kidneys are not badly affected. Nevertheless, he has to strictly follow the doctor's prescription besides keeping an active lifestyle.

When the doctor confirmed he is a diabetic, Zairul recalled his mother's repeated plea to go easy on carbonated drinks.

A bottle of such drinks is said to contain between 11 and 12 teaspoons of sugar!

By right Zairul should have been extra careful in his sugar consumption as his own father breathed his last due to diabetes.


If you have the genes for diabetes, taking sugar, putting on weight, and sedentary lifestyle encourages diabetes to appear earlier in life.

There may not be anyone in the family with diabetes but this does not mean there is no diabetic genes in the family, said Prof Datuk Dr Ikram Shah Ismail, President of Malaysian Diabetes Association (MDA).

The trend now show teenagers developing the adult form or Type 2 diabetes (either the body does not produce enough insulin or the cells ignore the insulin).

"It is probably that the earlier generation had a healthier lifestyle so that the diabetes did not appear in their lifetime, but would have been present had they lived longer.

"In our generation, diabetes appears much earlier because of our unhealthy lifestyle," he said.


Speaking further on diabetes, Dr Ikram who is also the dean for University of Malaya's Medical Faculty said that the situation is getting from bad to worse.

Dr Ikram pointed out in the mortality and morbidity survey carried out every 10 years by the Ministry of Health, the diabetes prevalence increased from 6.3 per cent in 1986 to 8.2 per cent in 1996.

"At that time, we predicted that the prevalence would exceed 10 per cent by 2020, the year when we are supposed to achieve developed nation status. Unfortunately in the survey done in 2006, we have already achieved 14.9 per cent. As far as diabetes is concerned we have surpassed the target of a developed nation 15 years ahead of time," said Dr Ikram.

What is more worrying is that 5.4 per cent of the people do not know that they have diabetes.

He pointed out that not only the prevalence has been increasing rapidly, the level of control is very poor.

"More than 70 per cent of the people with diabetes have poor control over the condition, that further leads to other complications including heart disease and strokes," he added.


Dr Ikram who is also the director of University Malaya Medical Centre (UMMC) cautioned Malaysians on excessive sugar consumption.

According to him, certain parties have equated sugar to poison simply because of the effects it has on the body.

"Many studies in the last 20 years have conclusively shown that the damage to our body from diabetes is a direct effect of sugar in our blood.

"This includes damage to blood vessels in our eyes, kidney, heart, brain etc," he explained.

Dr Ikram said the studies have also found that if we reduce the blood sugar level to normal, we can avoid all these complications of diabetes.

Thus, he said having high blood sugar damages our body.


Taking excessive refined sugar is dangerous to our body especially to people with diabetes, said Dr Ikram.

He explained that people with diabetes do not have enough insulin, and cannot handle sugar very well.

"After refined sugar is consumed, the blood sugar level goes up very high and very quickly, and it takes a long time to return to normal.

"While the sugar level is high, it damages the body. That is why people with diabetes are advised to avoid refined sugar. Malaysians simply consume too much sugar," he said.

Sugar is present in drinks like 'teh tarik', coffee and others. In addition, sugar is present in 'kuih' and cakes.


He admitted that it is difficult to control sugar consumption as it is linked to culture and habit.

"Children are often rewarded for their good behaviour with sweets," he pointed out.

The Government, he said, tried to control smoking by increasing the tax on cigarettes but if it does the same for sugar, there would be a political backlash.

Hence it is very important that the public be continuously educated on the dangers of consuming too much sugar and fatty foods.

"That is where non government organisations like the Malaysian Diabetes Association can play its role.

"Our association has membership all over the country and is in a better position to reach out to the members nationwide," said Dr Ikram.


Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health has announced recently the deployment of 300 nutrition experts at government health clinics.

Their mission is to provide counseling to about 43 per cent of the population who suffer from obesity.

Initially 51 nutrition experts would be placed at selected health clinics including the 1Malaysia clinics this year.

Some claim overeating particularly foods that contain high calories, fats and sugar leads to overweight and obesity!

All these contribute to chronic diseases such as coronary heart disease, diabetes, stroke and high blood pressure and other health problems.

For this reason, think deeply. Do you want to continue with "live to eat" or "eat to live"! The choice is actually in your own hands. If you simply ignore your health, it is you own body that will suffer the full consequences, no one else!