Type 2 Diabetes in Childhood: It’s Preventable
Type 2 diabetes was once a disease only seen in adults. But now, the statistics regarding type 2 diabetes in children are staggering—between the years of 2001 and 2009, the incidence of type 2 diabetes in pre-teens and teens increased by nearly 31 percent.
This epidemic is extremely serious. The disease can damage the heart, nerves, kidneys, eyes, and skin of affected children. In addition, children who have poorly controlled type 2 diabetes during childhood are likely to develop serious health complications as adults.
Unlike type 1 diabetes, which develops in a matter of days or weeks, type 2 diabetes symptoms are slow to appear. Even worse, some children don’t feel symptoms at all until the disease has been wreaking havoc on the body for a long time. Usually the first symptoms to appear are frequent urination, nighttime urination, increased thirst, blurry vision, and generalized fatigue.
The Likely Culprits
Children with type 2 diabetes may have up to three critical factors causing the condition. The first is related to genetics. Having a first-degree relative with type 2 diabetes increases the risk of children suffering from the disease themselves. Family heritage also plays a role.
However, the number-one risk factor for type 2 diabetes is being overweight. Statistics show that more than 80 percent of kids with type 2 diabetes are overweight and 40 percent could be classified as obese.
Small Changes, Big Payoff
Even though type 2 diabetes is partially related to genetics, the disease can be prevented or delayed for several years. The key to prevention is to help kids maintain a healthy weight.
Many of us at Watertree Health are parents and we know how crazy it can be to change habits and routines at home, especially with teenagers. But, we also know that your kids are important to you and that you’d do anything to keep them safe and healthy. Therefore, we suggest making a list of six small changes for diet and exercise that will provide a big payoff in preventing type 2 diabetes in your children. Below are some ideas to get you started.
Tips for Increased Physical Activity
- Take a trip to the local sporting goods store or look online for outdoor toys. Teenagers tend to like a croquet set or volleyball net. Whereas, younger kids are usually interested in tee-ball, hula hoops, or balls Then, go outside and enjoy it! Consider purchasing active toys for birthdays and holidays, too.
- Schedule a “Nature Walk” into every Friday afternoon or evening. Little ones will enjoy finding leaves, rocks, and acorns. Bring along a bag to carry their treasures home. If you have older kids, consider purchasing some inexpensive glow sticks and going on a family glow hike.
- For teens that are always connected to their smart phones, look for apps related to exercise and activity. Try out Map My Walk, Endomondo, SpecTrek, or Nexercise. Younger kids will probably be motivated without complicated gadgets. Try a fun pedometer or an achievement chart.
- Switch out soda for another “special” drink. Try sparkling water, decaf iced tea, or smoothies.
- Tackle one meal at a time. Start with building a healthier breakfast. Look for whole-grain breakfast cereals with less than 10 grams of sugar per serving. Eat oatmeal (not the sugar-packed packets) once per week. Bake a frittata on Sunday afternoon and serve it throughout the week.
- Involve your kids in meal preparation and cooking. Gather the whole family for 30 minutes on Sunday afternoon and browse recipes online. Let your kids pick a few meals for the week ahead and create a grocery list. If your children are young, have them pick out new fruits or vegetables at the grocery store. Older kids can help with the actual cooking.
Helping our children learn and develop healthy habits is one of the most important jobs that we have as parents. We know that it can be challenging, so start today and take it slow!
If you need help affording medications prescribed for diabetes or other health issues, download a free Watertree Health Prescription Discount Card or request a card be mailed to you. It provides significant discounts on almost all recommended medications (brand and generic). Most experts agree, taking your medicines as prescribed improves overall health and wellbeing and lowers cost of health care for everyone.
Instructions and Disclaimer: The content on this website is designed for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice or care. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses. Always consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you might have regarding your health.
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