Diabetes Association Focuses on Juvenile Diabetes Print
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Written by Shane D. Williams   
Thursday, 18 August 2011 00:00

The Belize Diabetes Association is raising awareness on Type 1 diabetes or juvenile diabetes in a camp for patients suffering from the syndrome. Juvenile diabetes mellitus is a syndrome with inappropriately high blood glucose levels due to a deficiency of insulin secretion in the pancreas. In digestion a portion of the food a person eats is broken down into sugar (glucose). Insulin breaks down the sugar and passes it into the bloodstream and into the body's cells for energy. Normally, the pancreas produces the right amount of insulin to accommodate the quantity of sugar. However, if the person has diabetes either the pancreas produces little or no insulin or the cells do not respond normally to the insulin. The sugar builds up in the blood, overflows into the urine and passes from the body unused.

There are no statistics on the prevalence of juvenile diabetes in Belize and enough attention is not paid to the condition. Parents must be aware of the symptoms to detect if their child needs to be examined by a doctor. Common symptoms of Type 1 diabetes include: frequent urination, increased thirst, extreme hunger, unexplained weight loss, extreme weakness and fatigue, urinating at night, blurred vision, numbness or tingling in the hands or feet, heavy or labored breathing, drowsiness or lethargy and fruity odor on the breath. Uncontrolled diabetes can be associated with major complications to vital organs including the heart, eyes, kidneys and nerves. Individuals suffering from Type 1 diabetes require insulin injections for survival.

What worries the President of the Belize Diabetes Association, Anthony Castillo, most is the growing number of youths suffering from Type 2 diabetes. While Type 1 is a genetic disorder not caused by obesity and eating excess sugar, Type 2 is caused by unhealthy lifestyles. Castillo said that it is important to emphasize to children the importance of a balanced nutrition. He also said, “They have to get from in front of the television and get active.” The camp being held at the ITVET building teaches kids how to live healthy and how to cope with diabetes.

More awareness needs to be raised on the prevalence of diabetes mellitus among our young people and the importance of a balance diet and exercise.