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Children Learn About Diabetes the Fun Way

by Sreeraman on  November 13, 2008 at 1:18 PM Health Watch   - G J E 4
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An innovative way to create awareness on diabetes among school kids is to lace it cleverly with entertainment and make it a fun affair so that the message can get ingrained in the psyche of the kids. The organizers of MV Hospital for Diabetes and Research Center in Chennai, India very successfully achieved their objective and organized day-long activities on health education. They surely believed in the maxim "catch 'em young" because the YMCA Madras Youth Centre teemed with over a thousand kids from as many as 60 (Central Board of Secondary Education) CBSE Schools on Tuesday 11th November, having a whale of a time participating in games, slogan contest, oratorical contests, all with the common theme - Diabetes. The day saw the launch of a major initiative for prevention of childhood obesity among CBSE (higher socio-economic schools) in Chennai.

At the launch of the "Slim and Fit" program for school students, Dr. Vijay Viswanathan, managing director of MV Hospital for Diabetes and Diabetes Research Center, cited a study conducted by their Research Center among school students in Chennai city from October 2007 to March 2008. The study which compared obesity trends among students of lower socio-economic schools (LSES) with students of higher socio-economic schools (HSES) found that 22% of girls and 13% of boys from HSES were overweight as against 9% of girls and 7% of boys from LSES.

Upon analysis, different lifestyles accounted for the different obesity trends. Students from the higher economic group watched more TV and played computer/video games, spent pocket money on unhealthy snack foods and generally had less physical activities than their counterparts in the lower socio-economic group.

Dr. Vishwanathan referred to a similar awareness campaign in Singapore that effected changes in school curriculum and canteen policies. The doctor said that the campaign in Chennai would mark the distribution of small kits worth Rs. 1,500 to 112 CBSE schools and 12 Kendriya Vidyalaya schools, each containing a glucometer, inch tape, educational materials explaining the symptoms of Type I diabetes and a food pyramid illustration.

'Funda' Games

Fun and frolic filled the air as kids from different schools vied with each other in games and slogan writing contests that saw some artistic posters with brilliant one-liners to beat obesity and diabetes. Ajmal Shah (Class XI of Kendriya Vidyalaya, CRPF) was breathless as he kept winning points on a game called "Tang and Bang", where he had to remember and recall the calorie values tagged on to food items. K. Manisha (Class IX of Maharishi Vidya Mandir) fancied the Jumbled words game and the Psycho spectrum game that tested her prowess in distinguishing diabetic facts from fiction.

Slogans Galore 

The pre-lunch session saw kids working feverishly discussing and working in groups to put up catchy slogans on colorful posters. There was one poster displaying a person gorging on an over-sized meal with the caution: A Few Minutes of Happiness- A Lifetime of Sadness.  

Some other posters sporting incongruously obese persons in varying sizes and varying degrees of inactivity said -

      Longer the Waistline Shorter the Lifeline,

      Life is Short Don't Make it Shorter,
 
      Change Your Bad Eating Habits When You are Still Young-Later May be Never
 
A fat man with a paunch was shown puffing as he trekked on a road painted red:

- Obesity - Highway to blood pressure, Diabetes and Heart Attack.

Pon Vidyashram School said: Walk Out of Diabetes and everyone stood wowing at Prerna Verma's (National Public School) poster that showed the world reeling under the scourge of Diabetes with the words Sweet Misery - A Poisoned World.

There were pictures of obese kids shackled to TV, computer and video games gobbling chips and cookies - Sweet Now, Bitter Later.

Some school kids came up with charts displaying healthy food options such as vegetables, fruits, wholegrain food - wheat, ragi, millet, corn, pulses, gram, salads and eggs, to name a few.

Healthy Contests

The students had an oratorical contest on the topic "Prevention of Childhood obesity and diabetes." Ganesh Venkatraman, who walked away with the first prize said he used to be 153cms tall and weighed 67 kilos in his seventh standard and after attending a school seminar on staying trim and fit he was motivated to be more than a "couch potato." Athira Uday from Kendriya Vidyalaya School drew a huge applause when she said "even if you do get diabetes, don't lose heart. It's not the end of the world. You can still fight it and reclaim your life." Bhavan's Rajaji Vidyalaya was the Quiz champion and the Overall Best Performance trophy went to P.S. Senior Secondary School.

More of these days to come

Mr. Nagaraju, Regional Officer CBSE, Chennai who spoke on the occasion said after three months of constantly falling ill, a CBSE student had a blood sugar level of 550 mg/dl and was diagnosed with Type I diabetes. He added, "We are concerned about the health of our students and have issued circulars to CBSE schools requesting that they substitute junk food in school canteens with healthy alternatives. We hope that the Sahodaya clusters, i.e. groups of schools in different regions of the city will take up this issue at their meetings."

Dr. S. Ilango, Director of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, Government of Tamil Nadu elaborated the government's initiatives to control diabetes and encouraged more of these awareness campaigns in India so that we are no longer considered the epicenter of diabetes in the world.

Chennai-based International Basketball player Robinson Nathan and India's youngest Car Racer Aditya Patil graced the occasion and encouraged students to say 'No' to junk food and "keep their bodies fit and their minds racing."

Rishwant and Kunal both from Sindhi Model School said they found it convenient to gulp a glass of milk before going to school, but would henceforth bite into "something solid" in the mornings. Keerthana Unnithan and Deepa Mary Varghese both VIII class students from Chinmaya Vidyalaya said their parents were always keen on providing a balanced diet. Vaishnavi Gunasekharan said she was going to take her mother's advice on eating sprouts, seriously.

Medindia hopes these bright, eager and young kids spread the message of healthy eating and healthier lifestyles so we can see a slimmer, trimmer and fitter generation in the coming years.

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