The iConquer: Diabetes program helps prepare youth to become leaders in combating diabetes.
By: Dr. Salim Surani
Running, walking, jumping, hiking, cycling, climbing and dancing: These are all integral aspects of our life. Imagine living life as an amputee. Corpus Christi is ranked No. 1 in the nation for below-knee amputation, and it ranks No. 3 in the state of Texas for death from diabetes-related complications. Although eating sweets in moderation is sometimes OK, the overconsumption of sweet and saccharine foods has quickly become an integral part of our dietary culture.
Approximately every 10 seconds, a person dies from diabetes-related complications; approximately 3.8 million people per year die from diabetes-related complications; and 250 million people, or approximately 6 percent of the world’s adult population, suffer from diabetes. Diabetes has become a global challenge that has reached epidemics throughout the world. In order to combat this epidemic, the United Nations recently passed a resolution to urge countries to emphasize their resources in the education, prevention and treatment of diabetes.
The prevalence of Type 2 diabetes is radically increasing among the U.S. population. Currently, 29.1 million people, or 9.3 percent of the U.S. population, suffer from diabetes, and 1.7 million new cases of diabetes are seen in this country every year. Diabetes is quickly becoming a household name as more and more parents and children become affected by it. Twelve point eight percent of Hispanics have diabetes, compared to 7.6 percent of Caucasians. In the United States alone, diabetes-related costs total to more than $245 billion a year. In Nueces County, the prevalence of diabetes is more than 14 percent.
Type 2 diabetes has always been associated with adult population. Contrary to popular belief, incidences of Type 2 diabetes have been more common among kids and teenagers who are overweight and obese. Furthermore, approximately 8 to 45 percent of children who have been newly diagnosed with diabetes have been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.
Diabetes is a preventable and treatable disease. Imagine the lives of children who have recently been diagnosed with diabetes. They are scared, frightened, worried and afraid. Early education combating diabetes not only helps educate them about prevention, but also helps alleviate and vex their fears. Efforts have been made toward early education in diabetes, especially among the high-risk adult population. Prevention efforts among children are minimal.
Leslie Saloman, a young teenager is taking care of several family members who are suffering from diabetes. Her day involves checking their blood sugars, educating them about an adequate diet and ensuring compliance. She already has a few family members who are suffering from diabetes-related complications, and she has the risk factors and genetic tendency to suffer from diabetes. She is prepared, despite her several responsibilities as a child. It is all because of her self will to understand the disease, diet, prevention and importance of a regular checkup.
The youth-driven iConquer: Diabetes program, including Leslie, aims to educate children from age 4 to 6 about diabetes. The middle and high school students leading the program use skits, animated movies and sublimal messages in an entertaining and palatable way. This program will help prepare the today’s children to be future leaders, and to help prevent diabetes and decrease the incidence of this deadly disease.
This early education program will help young children conquer future challenges with more confidence.