Rajab 1424 H
Volume 16-09 No : 201
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Lifestyle diseases are getting common among Muslim kids.
Seven-year-old Zubair Ahmed had dental cavities in all his milk teeth. He had to get three root canal fillings, three caps and fluoride treatment done for all his teeth.
Last year, nine-year-old Samina Shaikh came to know that she has type two diabetes. She was prescribed oral hypoglycemic agents and has to maintain a very strict dietary regime. A year later, though her sugar level is under control, the tablets and the diet are a part of her life.
Nasir Pathan, hailing from a very affluent family in Mumbai, weighed 75 kg at the age of 15. It took the doctor four visits to convince him that he was ‘obese’. A year-and-a-half later, after bringing about a drastic change in his lifestyle, he now weighs 55 kg and is a much happier boy.
Javed Badshah, still in kindergarten, constantly complained of abdominal pain, so much so that he even underwent an appendectomy. The pain continued to persist. It was only after his mother was counselled that things improved with Javed. Reason? She was over-ambitious about his performance at school. Javed never had appendix.
In urban areas, early schooling is a contributory factor towards impairing the child’s psychological growth. Forced to write alphabets and numbers at an age when the physical co-ordination of his limb joints is not fully developed, a child is likely to develop “splinter skills”, which may continue till the fourth standard. Lack of sleep due to early schooling hours and excess homework make a child irritable and hamper his creativity and self-development.
Gone are the days when children used to play traditional games and learn. Today the gadgets and skill enrichment classes have replaced traditional games. The time children used to spend outdoors is reduced and they have to follow a time table with strict monitoring.
Even the food which children used to have is replaced by the packaged snacks. With each packet of chips that you lovingly push into your child’s schoolbag, or the latest video game that you buy him, or the extra money (read love) that you shower him with, or the mental stress you make him go through to get admission in just “that one” school you may be pushing your child closer to any of these diseases.
Mumbai’s leading paediatricians explain why. Says Dr Rajendra Singh, specialist in children’s dentistry, “Today the prevalence of dental decay in children is almost 100 per cent and we are even treating children aged between eight months to a year.” The reason behind this increased incidence of dental problems is undoubtedly the basic change in diet.
“In addition to chocolates and sweets, a whole lot of easily available and readily fermentable carbohydrates, which are retentive in the mouth, are consumed by children several times a day,” says Singh. These include biscuits, potato chips, white bread etc.
In addition, lack of awareness on part of the parents also enhances the problem. “For instance,” avers Singh, “They think that since milk teeth are about to fall off, their decay is not of consequence. What they don’t realise is that if the milk teeth decay at too early an age, the child will not have teeth during his growing years till the permanent ones arrive.”
Dental decay is not the only outcome of modern lifestyle. The culture of “junk food” and the advent of cable television and computers with a growing tendency towards “only” academic excellence has multi farious negative fall outs the worst of them being obesity leading to Type Two diabetes in younger children, the cut-off age being reduced to 13 years.
Says Dr Vaman Khadilkar, child and adolescent growth specialist and paediatric endocrinologist, “Obesity is an out-and-out lifestyle disease of the affluent. Today, at least 5-25 per cent of children in English medium schools are overweight and 7-10 per cent out of them are obese.”
Points out Khadilkar, “Obesity is an epidemic now and it is merely a matter of time before these obese children develop type two diabetes. We are sitting on a time-bomb.” Explains paediatrician and neo-natologist Dr Pramod Jog, “The modern system of ‘formal’ education,which starts as early as two-and-a-half years,when a child has to compete to get into a leading city school, has a number of unwanted outcomes.”
If parents are well informed about the potential dangers of the lifestyle their child is leading and take adequate precautions, the diseases can easily be prevented.
The solutions are simple. Encourage outdoor activity of a child from an early age so that he gets addicted to it and does not take to computers or television. Also, follow simple preventive measures like reducing the snacks of children and giving them Indian food, which is ultimately the most healthy, and teaching children to brush and rinse their mouth after every meal.