Diabetes is a disease that occurs when there is an abundance of glucose in the blood stream and the body cannot produce enough insulin in the pancreas to transfer the sugar from the blood to other areas in the body for energy. Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes are both prevalent in Qatar however, Type 2 diabetes is more common and it is mainly what is causing the epidemic Qatar is facing. Type 1 diabetes is inherited and is not related to eating habits or lifestyle, and it is diagnosed in juvenile years. However, Type 2 diabetes can be caused by obesity, unhealthy eating habits, and lack of exercise and overall fitness. It is treatable but not curable and can be treated by maintaining a healthy diet, regular exercise, insulin intakes, and oral medication.

Diabetes is the 3rd most common cause of death in Qatar after road accidents and heart disease (http://www.worldlifeexpectancy.com/country-health-profile/qatar). In fact, in 2011, Qatar ranked 6th for the highest percentage of diabetes in the world. The amount of overweight adolescents in Qatar is very large resulting in higher diabetes rates amongst children and young adults. The percentage of overweight children doubled from 17% in 1997 to 35% in 2007 according to The Peninsula newspaper. Awareness is crucial at this age because most of the human body fat is put on during teenage years when the body is constantly growing and it is very important to maintain a healthy weight at this time.

Students at the secondary school level should understand whether or not they are at risk of developing this disease compared to ordinary people. Each student should know their chances of risk due to their family relations, history, and habits. In Qatar we find that the parents of many students our age face diabetes because of the habits of their parents and so on, therefore all of us are at a higher risk. The fact that fast food is so available and practical keeps people, especially those at a young age constantly consuming such unhealthy products. With the statistics of obesity so alarmingly high, education and awareness is the only key to solving the problem. We plan on increasing the diabetic awareness at our school by conducting surveys, presenting posters, interviewing students, as well as working hand-in-hand with the Qatar Diabetes Association (QDA) to be as successful as possible.

Although many efforts are being made by the government, many students do not know enough about the danger that they may be putting themselves in, and the consequences that result because of their actions. Many students at this age are allowed to choose what they eat and their diets are not regulated by parents anymore, therefore they need to learn to make proper choices. The high temperatures in Qatar also make it inconvenient to exercise outside, however there are numerous alternatives. The goal of this research is to enlighten our peers with this given information and compare their knowledge of diabetes before and after. Awareness is the first step to prevention, and that needs to begin at a young age. The first step to our project on spreading awareness about diabetes is to know the level at which the students are already aware. Therefore, using Google Forums, we will create a survey with questions about how much the students already know about diabetes, if they know of family history, if they have been tested, if they know the symptoms, etc. Once we have fully created the survey, we will email the link to all of the high school students at our high school asking them to each fill out the survey with the appropriate responses. In order to insure that we have accurate gatherings, we will each interview an equal amount of students randomly and record their answers to work from there.

After receiving 189 responses from the high school students we began to analyze the results. Only 22% of the students had been tested for or against diabetes. Out of those who had been checked 48% had checked more than a year ago. 58% of the students knew of family members with diabetes. Most had checked the correct symptoms for diabetes along with a lot of unrelated ones like coughing or vomiting. Also for the things you could do to prevent diabetes, 8% responded with “washing your hands”, 30% responded with “not smoking”, and surprisingly even 3% responded with “dressing modestly”. After witnessing the high percentage of wrong responses, it was made clear that we definitely had to increase our effort in educating our peers.

Once discussing the open ended question of “What do you know about diabetes?” we ranked each student's response out of 10 (Based on the below scale). Then, we performed a chi-squared statistical test to compare our expected value of 7/10 to 3.323/10 which was the average student rank. This proved a significant difference between the levels of awareness we expected from the students, to what we actually received.

The data from the survey proved the indeed lack of awareness among the students of the high school level. We created fun awareness posters and posted them on glass doors to the cafeteria, science wing and specific lockers where they were most visible to the student population. Upon the completion of our presentation to the 10th grade health class, we conducted a second survey regarding what the students had learned and the quality of our presentation. The table below shows the responses received from the students after the presentation. Unfortunately at the beginning of this research, we were shocked at noticing the extreme lack of awareness amongst our student population. Considering the high rates of diabetes in the State of Qatar, we expected a basic understanding about the disease especially since many people here are prone to it. It is very alarming that which current trends it is expected that 73% of men and 69% of women would have reached obesity in the country by 2030. Indeed it can be stated that a lot of work needs to be done.

One of the major purposes of this research was to gain insight about this issue and it is quite obvious that these high rates are leading to a huge problem in the nation. Fortunately Qatar has been working hard to increase awareness with events like National Sports Day and hosting events like the 2022 world cup to promote fitness in the country. As mentioned previously, since diabetes type 2 is the major concern because it is developed later in life and is preventable, young students are the target for spreading information too. Habits develop during the adolescent years so spreading the word among students at this age is critical.

This research was very successful in promoting awareness in our own school, but from what we have learned, there is a long way to go in order to decrease the high statistical quantities of diabetes rates. The Qatar National Research Strategy (QNRS) principle were designed to increase the quality of research occurring in Qatar. The third most important area of research in Qatar was health and under the Addressing National Health Priorities column, Type II diabetes was first in importance. We feel that by following the research plan addressed by H.H. Sheikha Moza that our research could have a strong impact on the research culture in Qatar indeed.

Some of the specific benefits to the students participating in this project include the following;

- How to conduct literature survey

- An increased knowledge and understanding about Diabetes, its causes, preventions and symptoms

- The seriousness of the issue worldwide and in Qatar

- The realization that the awareness of the students they spoke to increased so much that they can now give a lecture about the topic to their peers

- Presentation skills, video, poster, lecture

- Survey design

- How to conduct statistical analysis using statistical software

- Incorporating creative ways in educating their peers

- Communicating with professional societies such as Qatar Diabetes Association

- Took part in the joint program of Qatar Diabetes Association Sports Day event for the Action on Diabetes Campaign

- Interviewing skills as the asked questions of students and health care professionals working with diabetes

- Time management with creating a Letter of Intent and Proposal Report on time

- How to work as a team and how to divide the tasks to cover all requirements efficiently and effectively

- It is noteworthy to mention that the entire research methodology and the final report were fully prepared and conducted by the two students involved. The teacher's role was solely advisory

Qatar National Research Strategy (QNRS) mentions that diabetes is the 3rd most important area of research for QNRS.

Presenting the information about Diabetes to the high school student body, will not only benefit the students and teachers themselves in insuring their health and being aware of what may happen if they do not control some unnecessary desires, but it will inform them about the SSREP program in Qatar. As students participating in a research project during our secondary school years, presenting to our peers will allow them to realize the benefits that come from conducting research projects and inspire them to contribute in the following years.


Qatar National Research Fund – SSREP Program


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