Diet puts children at risk of developing diabetes

Monday April 24 2017

There are approximately 5,000 children with diabetes type 1 in Kenya. Children at risk of diabetes due to diet. PHOTO| FILE| NATION MEDIA GROUP


Diets in school increase the risk of children developing diabetes in Kenya, experts have warned.

Dr Kitirda Acharya, the chairperson of the Diabetes Association of Kenya, termed menus in schools as “frightening”.

Schools feed children with a lot of carbohydrates, which are given as routine.

Dr Acharya said the situation is made worse by unregulated development that leaves no room for playgrounds in schools and marketing that encourages consumption of foods that not only contain carcinogens — chemicals that cause cancer — but also predispose them to cancer.

There is hardly any national data on the prevalence rate of diabetes but the data that exists estimates it to be between three per cent in rural areas and 14 per cent in urban areas.



The association states that 50 per cent of Kenyans have the disease but do not know they suffer from it.

A 2016 report jointly published by World Health Organisation and the Lancet indicated that one in every 17 Kenyans has diabetes, and that 12,890 people died from both diabetes and high or low blood glucose in 2014. Diabetes has been implicated in renal failure that ends up in need of dialysis and kidney transplantation.

Dr Acharya’s announcement comes barely six months after Kenya’s 2016 Report Card on the Physical Activity and Body Weight of Children showed that children, particularly those in urban areas are becoming increasingly sedentary compared to their rural counterparts.


The report mentioned that in certain parts of the urban areas, only 13 per cent of participating children met the recommendation of 60 minutes physical activity or more daily.

In another study, only 36 per cent of urban and rural Kenyan children reported 60 or more minutes of physical activity three or more days a week.

Dr Acharya said that people living in the slums develop diabetes more because of the foods they eat.

“There are chips and sausages sold on the sides of the roads,” she said, adding that many Kenyans shied away from eating traditional foods, preferring the packaged and highly processed foodstuffs.