DUBAI // By the age of 8, Hoda Yaqoub knew how to examine the nutrition facts of every product she picked up at the supermarket.
She knew she could only consume one cup of boiled rice because it has just over 45 grams of carbohydrates - the daily amount prescribed by her doctor.
"It is so that I have control over diabetes, instead of it controlling me," said the Grade 11 student from Al Zahra' School in Sharjah.
Hoda, now 16, learnt she was diabetic in Grade 3. "I began to complain that I couldn't see the blackboard in class and would vomit a lot," she said. "One day, I was so tired that I fell down and my parents had to take me to the doctor."
From that day on, life has been a balancing act for the teenager, sometimes manageable, and at other times extremely challenging.
Her insulin pump is programmed to give her small doses at intervals.
"I have to count the amount of carbohydrates I take in, so I keep a book to record my diet," she said.
"I love swimming and even football, but if I play for a long time I get extremely tired."
When she sees her friends overeat, she highlights the risks and shares her experience with the disease.
Maitha Ahmed, a 16-year-old student at Fatima al Zahra School, believes she is at a risk of diabetes.
"My 17-year-old sister has diabetes and I must take care, too," she said. "I won't give up my pizzas, burgers and chocolates, but I make sure I eat in moderation."