The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), reprots Type 2 diabetes in children has swiftly been on the rise for the last decade. The most common characteristic of Type 2 diabetes is obesity. According to a Feb. 7 WRBL News 3 report, the Junior League of Columbus is hard at working educating Georgia families on the risks of childhood obesity, including diabetes. Other organizations are doing the same all over the country.
A family history of diabetes or being of a certain ethnicity increases a child's odds of developing the disease. Knowing your child's risk factors is important. Teaching children to live healthy and active lifestyles will help reduce their chances of developing the disease.
Children with Type 2 diabetes have a strong family history of the disease. It is more prevalent in African, Hispanic, Asian or American Indian children. Children with a body mass index greater than the 85th percentile height may be at risk. Children who have experienced the onset of puberty at an early age may also be at risk. These risk factors increase significantly if the child also has a family history of type 2 diabetes, is of one of the ethnic backgrounds associated with increased risk, shows signs of insulin resistance or has other conditions associated with insulin resistance, such as high blood pressure or polycystic ovary syndrome. At risk children and adolescents need screening every two years with a fasting blood test.
Identification and screening of at risk children and early intervention provide an opportunity to implement lifestyle changes that may prevent or delay the onset of Type 2 diabetes. Helping children achieve and maintain healthy body weights is important in preventing the disease. Make healthy food choices for your family and encourage physical activity.
Healthy meals and snacks that keep blood sugar levels balanced and at appropriate levels are crucial. Limit fast food, high fat snacks and sugary treats. Replace processed, prepackaged "junk foods" with fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts and low fat dairy products, such as yogurt and string cheese. Focus on lean protein sources, whole grain products and an assortment of produce for most meals.
Encourage your child to join a soccer team or take gymnastics lesson. Lead by example. Make sure your child sees you leading an active lifestyle. Get active as a family by walking, swimming, bowling, biking or playing catch on the weekends. Take a walk together after dinner each evening instead of watching television. Leading a healthy lifestyle is the most effective way of controlling childhood obesity and preventing Type 2 diabetes.