Working day-to-day with patients and seeing first hand their ailments means that I am not often shocked by health statistics.
But the news that nearly 7,000 young Britons under 25 have been officially diagnosed with type 2 diabetes had me reeling with horror.
It illustrates perfectly the impact poor diet and inactivity is having on our society and more worryingly our future. Because this chronic life-long condition – usually linked with obesity – can result in our children enduring blindness or even limb amputations. And being overweight also means they are more susceptible to heart conditions and strokes, going forwards.
What will it take to prevent this health catastrophe curtailing our children’s lives?
Certainly I would like to see the government spend more on providing sporting facilities rather than selling them off to developers. But we as individuals have an even bigger part to play, as parents championing healthy diets, businesses in selling nutritious food and as members of the community devoting our spare time to the promotion of good health among the young.
With Christmas approaching, the idea of holding back on certain foods may seem difficult. There are no foods you can’t eat when you have type 2 diabetes but a balance is essential – as it is in preventing the condition in the first place. To help you create an attractive and varied diet for your children, visit:
Retailers could create a tangible difference by making small changes to the way they display sweets and highly sugared drinks. I support celebrity chef and nutritionist Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s drive to stop pushing chocolate at the check-out for example. And though it has its opponents within the food and drinks industry, the sugar tax and tighter controls on advertising would surely make a change to everything from waist lines to how many cavities our children have.
December’s ‘Sports Personality of the Year’ award will once again be saluting the Unsung Heroes of sport, who volunteer to run clubs and the activities which help keep our children fit. If you used to enjoy sport or even pursuits such as dance and drama which can build confidence and requires movement, why not get involved in mentoring, volunteering or coaching?
All of us as adults need to set a better example when it comes to eating, drinking and exercising. It is equally stunning to learn that the first child diagnosed with type 2 diabetes was in 2000 and since that time we now have under 11’s contracting the condition. Junk food and a lack of exercise are not only potentially killing us – it could now kill our children. And it is time to act.
Dr Zahid Chauhan is a national health campaigner striving to create good quality healthcare for all.
(Rochdale Online, 27th November 2018)