Until the past two decades, type 2 diabetes has been majorly diagnosed in older people aged 40 and above. Children and adolescents were almost always assumed to develop type 1 diabetes mellitus. However recent reports from American Academy of Pediatrics indicate that 30% to 50% of children with newly diagnosed diabetes have type 2 diabetes. Medical experts blame it on a culture steeped in junk food, high-calorie diet, high-fat eating habits and a lack of excercise. This has led to more obese kids increasing their risk for type 2 diabetes.
Researchers from the New York University School of Medicine have found a shocking 200% increase in hospitalizations for children affected with type 2 diabetes from data collected over past few years.
Type 1 diabetes: Also known as juvenile onset diabetes. This is an autoimmune disease that occurs when the pancreas does not make any or enough of the special cells that produce insulin. Insulin helps the body to convert food into energy.
Type 2 diabetes: Also known as Adult onset diabetes. In type 2 diabetes the pancreas makes insulin, but the cells in the body aren’t able to use it properly. Over time, the disease can cause serious health problems.
What makes your child to be a diabetic?
Obesity: The biggest risk factor for childhood diabetes is being overweight or obese; especially those who have centrally distributed body fat (“apple-shaped” body). The study published in American Academy of Pediatrics reveals that obesity is strongly associated with insulin resistance, which leads to the development of overt diabetes.
Ancestry: A member of certain racial/ ethnic groups, namely, African American, American Indian, Asian and Pacific Islander American, and Hispanic American are at greater risk.
Other childhood diabetes risk factors include:
- Active and passive smoking
- Non-active lifestyle
- Eating junk foods and not eating enough fruits and vegetables
- High blood pressure and cholesterol levels
How can childhood diabetes be controlled?
Research studies have found that aggressive early treatment and lifestyle changes can help, and even snuff out childhood diabetes. Here’s what you as a parents can do to help their children in reducing diabetes risk factors early in life, so they grow up to...
become healthy adults:
Healthy Weight: Studies says that being overweight is a major risk factor for type 2 diabetes in children. Therefore, preventing inappropriate weight gain and/or weight loss is one of the most important steps to reduce risk of diabetes. Here are the things you can do:
- Take help of certified dietitian for goal setting, meal planning, and nutrition education.
- Ask your doctor about Body Mass Index (BMI) of your child and waist-to-hip ratio (as body fat does not depend only on how much fat you have, but it is important to know where it is on your body. Extra fat around the abdomen has been linked to diabetes).
Stop smoking: If you are a smoker, you should stop smoking or at the least be careful in exposing your child to passive smoke. According to the journal Diabetes Care, experts have found that people with passive smoking are at a higher risk of developing glucose intolerance.
Active lifestyle: Inactivity in children is a risk factor for obesity and eventually can lead to type 2 diabetes. You should encourage your child to become more active.
- Limit your and your child’s time on TV and video or computer games or use video games that involve more physical activity such as Nintendo Wii
- Go for family walk daily
- Play family sports after-school activity
- Build up to 30 minutes of brisk exercise, 5 days a week
- Eat healthy snacks like carrots, celery sticks and fruits
- Eat green leafy vegetable at every meal
- Limit fat, especially fried foods (french fries, fried chicken, doughnuts, chips), cheese, pizza and sweets (ice cream, cake, cookies)
- Drink milk daily; limit consumption of sodas and soft drinks
Childhood diabetes is a wakeup call for all of us. If the incidence and prevalence of type 2diabetes in children is not controlled, our society may face major challenges in coming years and the burden of diabetes and its complications will affect many more individuals in coming times than currently anticipated.
It is difficult to have control of factors based on genes, ethnic background, but as discussed there are other factors that can be controlled. On the front line parents should take a lead to teach their children and help to lower the rates of child obesity and associated diseases like type 2 diabetes for a healthy living. Just remember, children are the future and investing in health of children is like investing in your future, Healthy Parenting!