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Table of Contents
Year : 2015  |  Volume : 19  |  Issue : 7  |  Page : 1-3

Diabetes-friendly environments for children with diabetes

1 Consultant Endocrinologist, Centre for Diabetes and Endocrine Care, Bangalore Diabetes hospital, Bangalore, Karnataka, India
2 Professor of Paediatric Endocrinology, Indira Gandhi Institute of Child Health and Senior Consultant in Paediatric Endocrinology, Sagar Hospitals, Bangalore, Karnataka, India
3 Department of Endocrinology, Bharti Hospital and B.R.I.D.E., Karnal, Haryana, India

Date of Web Publication17-Apr-2015

Correspondence Address:
Sanjay Kalra
Bharti Hospital and B.R.I.D.E., Karnal, Haryana - 132 001
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/2230-8210.155324

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How to cite this article:
Prasanna Kumar K M, Raghupathy P, Kalra S. Diabetes-friendly environments for children with diabetes. Indian J Endocr Metab 2015;19, Suppl S1:1-3

How to cite this URL:
Prasanna Kumar K M, Raghupathy P, Kalra S. Diabetes-friendly environments for children with diabetes. Indian J Endocr Metab [serial online] 2015 [cited 2021 Apr 18];19, Suppl S1:1-3. Available from: https://www.ijem.in/text.asp?2015/19/7/1/155324

The concept of diabetes-friendly environments is not a new one. While diabetes may be a "biological" disease, it certainly has psychosocial ramifications as well. All these domains of diabetes are sensitive to both the physical and psychosocial environment. [1],[2] Children with diabetes have special needs, which extend beyond those addressed in the clinic. The responsibility to meet these needs is a joint one, shared by policy-makers, civic bodies, schools and parents. The diabetes care professional is the key person, however, responsible for such an advocacy and its implementation.

The diabetes care professional understands the medical, psychological, and social challenges faced by the child with diabetes. The clinician should also realize the strengths and limitations of the child, as well as her or his family. At the same time, the care provider is best-placed to help resolve various modifiable issues, and optimize quality-of-life in children living with diabetes. Hence, it is our responsibility, as diabetes care professionals, to advocate for diabetes-friendly environments for all children living with the condition. While many publications discuss diabetes-friendly physical environments, and yet others call for child-friendly diabetes care facilities, [3],[4] this editorial provides a comprehensive overview of the "macro"-physical, "micro"-physical, chemical, biological, and psychosocial environmental factors which impact the life of children with diabetes [Table 1].
Table 1: Environmental factors which may impact diabetes

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   Macro-Physical Environment Top

Our macro environment plays an important role in modulating our health. [5] The quality of urban architecture, including availability of facilities for walking, cycling, games and sports, influence the amount and quality of physical activity that a population indulges in. Provision of options which allow safe, enjoyable, and healthy exercises facilitate diabetes control. Children with diabetes need access to playgrounds, parks gymnasia, and sports stadia, in schools as well as outside of schools, to be able to exercise regularly. Such facilities may not be available for many children in developing nations.

   Micro-Physical Environment Top

Other less visible, but equally important "micro" issues may also impact diabetes care. Availability of refrigerators, and electricity to run them is limited in many parts of the world. [6] Similarly, finding a place with controlled humidity, which allow storage of glucose monitoring or urine monitoring sticks, may pose a challenge to a child living in a one-room house, in which the kitchen is part of the bedroom.

Privacy for injecting insulin may be unavailable in schools and restaurants, and this may compromise insulin delivery. Availability of devices for disposal of sharps too is necessary for optimal needle/syringe disposal. Improvisation is often required to help ensure appropriate, safe, and feasible insulin storage, usage, and disposal of sharps. [7]

   Chemical Environment Top

The concept of endocrine disruptor chemicals or metabolic disruptor chemicals has gained ground in recent decades. While no clear cut association has been documented, an increasing body of evidence does point to various links between the increasing prevalence of diabetes and exposure to chemicals. [8]

Children with diabetes, therefore, have a right to "chemical-free" and pollution-free environments, with minimal exposure to plastics, pesticides, pollutants, and flame retardants.

   Biological Environment Top

The biological environment, too, affects health of children living with diabetes. Many of them have compromised immunity, which predisposes them to infections. [9] While various air-, food-, and water-borne infections are always endemic in the environment, the recent surge in air-borne epidemics such as influenza, is a cause for concern. Children with diabetes should repeatedly be counseled to practice appropriate preventive hygienic measures.

From another perspective, a few infectious diseases, such as hepatitis B virus, hepatitis C virus, and human immunodeficiency virus, are associated with increased risk of dysglycemia. Children with such conditions should be regularly screened for diabetes, [10] and counseled appropriately.

   Psychosocial Environment Top

The role of the family and the community, in modulating diabetes care is well-documented. [11],[12],[13] Psychosocial support plays an integral role in achieving optimal diabetes care. A diabetes-friendly psychosocial environment, in which there is no social stigma attached to diabetes and in which neither ostracization nor pity finds place, is an absolute necessity. This can be created by having supportive family, schools, and communities and allow the child with diabetes to achieve her or his fullest potential.

One simple, but important, step in achieving this is to avoid "culinary cruelty," in which children are repeatedly expected to abstain from them. [14] Yet another phenomenon is "dietary draconism," where children are forced to give up all foods, in the mistaken belief that a near-starvation diet is essential for glycemic control. In both cases, advocacy and awareness drives are required to educate the community about diabetes-friendly culinary environments. It is much better to learn how to handle ordinary food when having diabetes.

   Changing Diabetes in Children Top

The changing diabetes in children (CDiC) program aims to change diabetes in children, for the better. The vision includes not only micro-interventions, by providing insulin and glucose monitoring device, but also macro-intervention. Educational materials for parents, diabetes educators, and schools developed as part of CDiC ambit are examples of such activities. The Afro-Asian changing Diabetes in Children (AACDiC) Summit offers an opportunity to take this further. Advocacy for diabetes-friendly environments, in which children can live healthy, happy lives with diabetes, can be espoused through this platform. The multinational gathering at AACDiC facilitates sharing of best ideas and practices in this regard. It also encourages wider, louder, and better heard voices of advocacy, encouraging the creation of diabetes-friendly environments for our children.

   References Top

Kalra S, Sridhar GR, Balhara YP, Sahay RK, Bantwal G, Baruah MP, et al. National recommendations: Psychosocial management of diabetes in India. Indian J Endocrinol Metab 2013;17:376-95.  Back to cited text no. 1
Kumar KM, Azad K, Zabeen B, Kalra S. Type 1 diabetes in children: Fighting for a place under the sun. Indian J Endocrinol Metab 2012;16 Suppl 1:S1-3.  Back to cited text no. 2
Kalra S, John M, Unnikrishnan AG, Sahay R, Baruah MP, Bantwal G. Children with diabetes friendly services: A blueprint. J Soc Health Diabetes 2013;1:75-8.  Back to cited text no. 3
  Medknow Journal  
Prasanna Kumar KM, Dev NP, Raman KV, Desai R, Prasadini TG, Das AK, et al. Consensus statement on diabetes in children. Indian J Endocrinol Metab 2014;18:264-73.  Back to cited text no. 4
Sherifali D, Greb J, Amirthavasar G, Gerstein H, Gerstein S. A community based approach for the self-management of diabetes. Eur Diabetes Nurs 2011;8:54-9.  Back to cited text no. 5
Kalra S, Kalra B. Storage of insulin in rural areas. J Acad Med Sci 2012;2:88-9.  Back to cited text no. 6
  Medknow Journal  
Kalra S, Balhara YP, Baruah MP, Chadha M, Chandalia HB, Chowdhury S, et al. Forum for injection techniques, India: The first Indian recommendations for best practice in insulin injection technique. Indian J Endocrinol Metab 2012;16:876-85.  Back to cited text no. 7
Jaacks LM, Staimez LR. Association of persistent organic pollutants and non-persistent pesticides with diabetes and diabetes-related health outcomes in Asia: A systematic review. Environ Int 2015;76:57-70.  Back to cited text no. 8
Casqueiro J, Casqueiro J, Alves C. Infections in patients with diabetes mellitus: A review of pathogenesis. Indian J Endocrinol Metab 2012;16 Suppl 1:S27-36.  Back to cited text no. 9
Kalra S, Unnikrishnan AG, Raza SA, Bantwal G, Baruah MP, Latt TS, et al. South Asian consensus guidelines for the rational management of diabetes in human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome. Indian J Endocrinol Metab 2011;15:242-50.  Back to cited text no. 10
Jacobson AM, Hauser ST, Lavori P, Willett JB, Cole CF, Wolfsdorf JI, et al. Family environment and glycemic control: A four-year prospective study of children and adolescents with insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus. Psychosom Med 1994;56:401-9.  Back to cited text no. 11
Overstreet S, Goins J, Chen RS, Holmes CS, Greer T, Dunlap WP, et al. Family environment and the interrelation of family structure, child behavior, and metabolic control for children with diabetes. J Pediatr Psychol 1995;20:435-47.  Back to cited text no. 12
Pereira MG, Berg-Cross L, Almeida P, Machado JC. Impact of family environment and support on adherence, metabolic control, and quality of life in adolescents with diabetes. Int J Behav Med 2008;15:187-93.  Back to cited text no. 13
Kalra S, Baruah MP. Discrimination and diabetes: Insight from the second Diabetes Attitudes Wishes and Needs (DAWN2) Study. J Soc Health Diabetes 2015;3:56-7.  Back to cited text no. 14
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  [Table 1]

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