Dr Amani Osman, a consultant paediatric diabetologist at Imperial College London Diabetes Centre (ICLDC), discusses how to support your loved one living with diabetes
What is the significance of this year’s World Diabetes Day theme – Family and Diabetes?
Diabetes is not an individual’s disease; it affects the whole family. It also tends to run in families, and a family’s support can make a significant difference to how someone copes.
What can parents do to help their children?
Accompany them to doctor’s appointments and let them know they are not alone in this. Encourage them to monitor their blood sugar and praise them for their efforts. Also encourage them to discuss their feelings and experiences freely. We often hear of people making disparaging remarks about food to a child with diabetes due to ignorance over the causes and different types of diabetes. People may blame children or their parents, mistakenly believing they have developed their condition through overeating. Parents need to explain that diabetes is not a bad disease, but rather a health condition that requires specific lifestyle and dietary changes and constant monitoring. Speak to family members, teachers and as many people as possible to help dismiss the myths surrounding diabetes.
Why are young people particularly vulnerable to diabetes stigma?
Diabetes is a very visible disease, with blood glucose monitoring, insulin injections, dietary restrictions and hypoglycaemic episodes. Younger people often feel pressure to be accepted by their peers, so these aspects create a sense of otherness and make it difficult to blend in.
What can you do as a family to help?
Ensure the person feels included, so serve the same healthy meals to the whole family, and try to involve everyone in physical activities.
Join ICLDC’s WALK 2019 event on November 15 at Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi. Visit icldc.ae/walk-on for details.