Youth roundtable highlights awareness of Type 1 diabetes - GulfToday

Youth roundtable highlights awareness of Type 1 diabetes


The participants shared their experiences and gave advice on how to accept and better manage the condition.


In light of World Diabetes Day, various initiatives and awareness campaigns were held across the UAE to increase awareness among the residents about the disease.

With this year’s theme, Diabetes: Protect Your Family, Ramada Hotel & Suites by Wyndham Ajman, in partnership with Ajman University, organised a roundtable for children and teenagers, aged 11 to 17, who are currently dealing with Type 1 diabetes. The participants shared their experiences and gave advice on how to accept and better manage the condition. The event also incorporated an awareness campaign on how to recognise warning signs of diabetes, and help prevent Type 2 diabetes through a healthy lifestyle.

Seventeen-year old Syeda Emaan Iftikhar, the roundtable’s moderator, told Gulf Today that it was important to have a support group and be able to impart our first-hand experience to others who are currently coping with this condition. We hope that through this discussion, we will be able to acquire more information and tips on managing diabetes, as well as educate others for them to better understand what we and our families are going through on a daily basis.  Emaan mentioned that the role of parents, whose children have Type 1 diabetes, is very crucial.  They should properly monitor the medication and proper diet of their kids.  Children should be encouraged to participate in different sporting activities and should frequently visit the doctors after three months.

She noted that apart from taking insulin and eating the right food at the right time on a daily basis, she always visits the doctor after three months for a proper checkup.

“In case of low blood sugar, never eat chocolates, because chocolate slows down the process of glucose absorption in the body, better to drink juices or have mint sweeteners in case of emergency,” Emaan concluded.

Charlotte Spafford, a 12-year-old Dubai College student, who was diagnosed approximately seven months ago with Type 1 diabetes, told this reporter: “I always thought there was only one type of diabetes where you were overweight and had a bad diet. It was reversible and could not have sugar at all. Ever since I was diagnosed, I was told differently, and I still learn new things every day.

This was a big shock to me as no one in my family had or has diabetes, either types.

“After I was diagnosed, I found out that there were 4 or 5 other kids in my school who had the same thing, so I was not alone. Also, in school, we learn a lot about different types of cancer and body malfunctions. In fact, my form teacher was a Type 1 diabetic. We celebrate diabetes day and have posters about it in the nurses’ office. In my school, having diabetes does not discriminate or destroy friendships, it’s just a normal thing that is slightly different.

“Diabetes is not a disease, it’s simply a body malfunction. Don’t treat it as a stigma. Don’t even treat it as if it’s contagious. Treat that person like they have a working pancreas.”

I was diagnosed due to a school medical. I had had the symptoms for ages, yet no one realised it meant something.

“My dad has told me that when he tells people that his daughter has diabetes, he instantly knows that they think I am fat and has to correct them. But honestly, look at me, I am a slim girl, I have a healthy diet and do regular exercise. “With diabetes affecting more than one in five people living in the UAE, every effort should be made to curb unhealthy lifestyle prevalent among the majority of the residents in the country,” a Dubai-based health expert told Gulf Today. “Balancing good health with a healthy work ambience is imperative in this competitive arena. Let us strive to overcome an unhealthy lifestyle which is accompanied with loads of health threats, including diabetes,” said Avivo Group Chief Executive Officer Dr Atul. He was referring to the group’s unique Employee Health Engagement Programme to be launched on World Diabetes Day.

“Numerous corporate houses have already joined hands with Avivo Group to fight diabetes through Employee Health Engagement Programmes. Avivo employees and their patients are joining hands to create awareness on World Diabetes Day by wearing blue silicone wrist bands,” said Dr Atul.

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