Abu Dhabi UAE, March 7 2015: More than 100 children living with Type 1 diabetes came together over the weekend for an Imperial College London Diabetes Centre-hosted kids Play for Life workshop-with-a-difference at Abu Dhabi’s Royal Stables.
The event is part of the public health awareness campaign, Diabetes.
Knowledge. Action., under the patronage of Her Highness Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak. Imperial College London Diabetes Centre (ICLDC) invited patients’ aged 5-12 years to observe the daily activities of horses and ponies at the stables as they considered the importance of a healthy lifestyle.
The Centre’s medical director, Dr Saf Naqvi suggested that the same factors that influence the healthy lifestyle of children living with diabetes also have a bearing on how horses are looked after when domesticated in stables.
He explained that it is generally recognised that horses are naturally resistant to insulin, which is what is occurring in those with Type 1 diabetes, a factor that fairs well when residing in a natural habitat as this enables them to eat heartily when food is available and use fat stores when it is scarce.
He said that in a domestic environment, however, this natural metabolic make-up can lead to weight gain and even obesity if the horse eats too much of the wrong thing, coupled with little or no exercise.
“It is important to us that we speak with our young patients in a way that is both educational and fun and taking them to the Royal Stables to see first-hand the importance of a balanced diet and regular exercise by observing the lifestyle of the horses, did just that,” said Dr Saf.
He also indicated that as public awareness of diabetes gains traction, figures show that more children under the age of 12 are visiting Imperial College London Diabetes Centre for check-ups.
“Parents are realising that the early diagnosis of Type 1 diabetes really does help in its effective treatment, and are bringing children into see us when often there is no diabetes present. This is good as we can then take steps to help keep diabetes at bay.
“Likewise, as the benefits of a healthy lifestyle are embraced for its ability to manage, prevent and even help reverse the more lifestyle related Type 2 diabetes, very often patients with pre-diabetes and those with family members living with diabetes are proactively coming to us for early screenings.
“These are trends that we welcome as most definitely prevention is the best cure. The earlier we can get to know a patient, the better,” Dr Saf stated.
At The Royal Stables, Play for Life participants – young patients at the Centre and their families – were guided by ICLDC’s team of paediatricians and nutritionists as they took part in a series of interactive programmes receiving a certificate for each.
- A diabetes education stand offering fun interactive sessions with endocrinologists, where children were encouraged to embrace a healthy and positive lifestyle while living with diabetes
- A healthy eating stand was hosted by the Centre’s dieticians where children took part in a number of educational food games and quizzes showing the important a balanced diet
- An exercise opportunity where children took part in a 1km guided walk around the stables, and had the opportunity to ride a pony