A MOBILE campaign is being relaunched in schools across Bahrain today to raise awareness about diabetes.
The Diabetes Mobile Unit (DMU) programme aims to empower children to adopt a health-conscious mindset and lead a healthy, balanced lifestyle to minimise the risk of developing obesity and type 2 diabetes.
Obesity and diabetes are increasing worldwide across the age spectrum, with obesity being a major contributing factor that increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes in adults and children.
Established in 2012, the DMU programme is a joint project between the Bahrain Diabetes Society (BDS) and the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland - Medical University of Bahrain (RCSI Bahrain).
It is sponsored by the Rotary Club of Manama and implemented in collaboration with the ministries of Education and Health and has been approved by the Higher Education Council (HEC).
“The unit will visit schools to teach children how to eat healthy and remain active, helping them prevent childhood obesity and type 2 diabetes,” said BDS scientific committee chairperson Dr Dalal Alromaihi.
“It’s critical to teach children from an early age in order to raise awareness,” said Dr Alromaihi, who is also a consultant endocrinologist at Awali Hospital.
A story book will also be distributed to third and fourth grade children in government and private schools to help raise awareness through fun and interactive activities.
“We are in a region that is always at risk, and if the numbers keep increasing at its current rate, we will be in a very difficult position in 2045,” said Dr Alromaihi.
“That is why we are making important strides in working with the next generation, teaching them to make better lifestyle choices to be healthy adults.”
Research indicates that children are at higher risk of developing obesity between the ages of two and six.
However, Dr Alromaihi said that the window of opportunity to reach the younger population is crucial to reduce the prevalence of diabetes and obesity in the kingdom.
This was demonstrated at the World Diabetes Day Event, which was held in collaboration with Royal Medical Services and BDS, in Seef Mall.
A children’s zone was set up with colouring books and fun activities, giving children the opportunity to learn about the disease through interactive sessions.
The health fair, which concluded on Saturday, offered diabetic and high-risk adults free health check-ups, alongside booths that provided dietician advice, free consultations, foot and eye assessments, screening and booths where attendees could get their blood pressure checked.
Since its establishment in 1989, the BDS focuses on several community events as part of raising awareness and educating those who have diabetes or are at risk from the disease.
According to a national health survey in Bahrain in 2018, the prevalence of diabetes had reached 15 per cent of the population.
Diabetes is a chronic health condition that affects how the body turns food into energy. The body doesn’t make enough insulin or cannot use it as well as it should. When there isn’t enough insulin or cells stop responding to insulin, too much blood sugar stays in the bloodstream. Over time, that can cause serious health problems, such as heart disease, vision loss, and kidney disease.
By 2030, the number of people living with diabetes is likely to rise about a quarter of the region’s population across GCC countries, according to National Health Survey Data.