In our second excerpt from science writer Zeena Nackerdien, we look at an excerpt from her HIV/TB/Diabetes Resource Kit.
I am a South African-born US science writer with a keen interest in the escalation of Type 2 diabetes in combination with infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis in high-burden countries such as the land of my birth.
Chapter 5: EDUCATION
The South African Medical Research Council reports that 61% of the population is overweight, obese, or severely obese, and many of these individuals are likely to be youths.
Factors that predispose youths to diabetes are:
- Being overweight or a lack of exercise
- Race: The Indian population in South Africa has a strong genetic predisposition (11-13%), followed by coloreds (8-10%), blacks (5-8%), and whites (4%)
- Family history of Type 2 diabetes
- Having been exposed to gestational diabetes prior to birth
- One or more conditions in organs other than the pancreas such as increased fatty deposits in the liver, patchy skin discoloration (on the neck and under the arms) known as acanthosis nigricans, and a condition in women that include no menstrual periods, unusual hair growth and being overweight (polycystic ovarian syndrome)
- High blood pressure or levels of fat/cholesterol in blood can be a risk factor and also contribute to complications associated with the disease
- Taking certain medications for mental health conditions (consult with a healthcare provider)
Children may be asymptomatic and only diagnosed when visiting the doctor for other reasons e.g., being overweight.
- Being tired
- Yeast infections
- Blurred vision
- Increase in feeling thirsty
- Going to the bathroom more
Parents should, where possible, adopt a healthy eating and lifestyle example for children. Suggested lifestyle changes to consider are:
- Opt for water instead of sugary drinks
- Fresh fruits and cut-up veggies are healthy alternatives to processed snacks
- Get moving. Children should get at least 60 minutes of exercise daily.
- Replace excessive sedentary activities such as watching TV for more than 2 hours at a stretch with activity play time.
- Follow nutritional guides under the guidance of a healthcare provider