Years ago, it was rare to hear about a child with type 2 diabetes. Doctors used to think kids only got type 1. It was even called juvenile diabetes for a long time.
Not anymore. Now more and more people younger than 20 have this disease.
What Is Type 2 Diabetes?
You’ve probably heard diabetes and high blood sugar mentioned together. Here’s what happens. Your digestive system breaks down carbohydrates into a type of sugar called glucose. Your pancreas creates a hormone, known as insulin, that moves glucose from your blood into your cells, where it’s used for fuel.
In type 2 diabetes, the cells in your child’s body don’t respond to the insulin, and glucose builds up in her bloodstream. This is called insulin resistance. Eventually, the sugar levels in his/ her body get too high for it to handle. That could lead to other conditions in the future, like heart disease, blindness, and kidney failure.
Who Gets It?
Type 2 diabetes is most likely to affect children who are:
Have a family history of diabetes
American Indian, African-American, Asian, or Hispanic/Latino
Have a problem called insulin resistance
The single biggest cause of type 2 diabetes in children is extra weight. In the U.S., nearly 1 out of every 3 children is overweight. Once a child gets too heavy, she’s twice as likely to get diabetes.
One or more of these things may contribute to extra weight or obesity:
Lack of physical activity
Family members (alive or dead) who’ve been overweight
Rarely, a hormone problem or other medical condition
As with adults, type 2 diabetes is more likely to affect children who carry extra weight around the middle.
What Are the Symptoms Of Type 2 Diabetes?
At first, there may be no symptoms. Over time, you may notice:
Unexplained weight loss
Hungry or thirsty a lot, even after eating
Peeing a lot
Slow healing of sores or cuts
Numbness or tingling in the hands or feet
Take your child to the doctor if you notice any of these symptoms.
How Is It Treated?
The first step is to get your child to the doctor. He can tell if she’s overweight based on her age, weight, and height. He’ll test her blood sugar to see if she has diabetes or prediabetes. If she does have diabetes, it may take a few extra steps to find out if it’s type 1 or type 2.
Until he knows for sure, he may give her insulin. Once he confirms it’s type 2 diabetes, he’ll ask you to help her make lifestyle changes. He may suggest she take a medication called metformin. It and insulin are the only two blood sugar-lowering medicines approved for kids younger than age 18, but others are being studied.
Your child should get a hemoglobin A1c test every 3 months. This test measures her average blood sugar levels over that period.
She’ll need to check her blood sugar:
When she starts or changes treatment
If she doesn’t meet her treatment goals
If she has to take insulin
If she takes a sulfonylurea drug
The doctor will teach you both how to test blood sugar and tell you how often. Most experts suggest three or more times a day if she’s on insulin. If she’s not, she can check less often, but should do it after meals. She can use a traditional finger stick test or a continuous glucose monitor.
You can take her to see a dietitian, who can help you create a meal plan.
She should also get exercise for at least 60 minutes every day. Limit her screen time at home to less than 2 hours a day.
Can You Prevent Type 2 Diabetes In Children?
The same steps used to treat type 2 diabetes in children can also prevent it. Reduce fats and sweets in your child’s diet. Make sure he/ she gets physical activity each day. Studies show that exercise has a dramatic effect on reducing insulin resistance. These are two easy ways to help your child get down to and stay at a healthy weight and normal blood sugar levels.
Healthy eating and physical activity help children grow, learn and build strong bones and muscles. As a parent or caregiver, you have a great opportunity to be a role model of positive behaviours and a healthy lifestyle.
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Healthy food choices and regular physical activity may help children to maintain a healthy weight and prevent health problems, including type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes usually develops in adults, but increasing numbers of overweight children and teens are being diagnosed with this chronic disease.
For more great Health and Nutrition Tips refer to the website positivehealthwellness.com.
Its recommended that children build up to 90 minutes of activity (30 minutes vigorous, 60 minutes moderate) per day. Start slowly and build activity into their daily routine. Children learn by watching and doing, so set a good example. Eat healthy meals and snacks and participate in fun activities together – go for a walk or play catch! Use the list of “Tips to get moving” to encourage healthy habits.
INFOGRAPHIC – Calculating Protein Intake for Weight Loss And Reduced Risk of Type 2 Diabetes
While the exact cause of Type 2 diabetes is still not fully understood, it is known that being overweight or obese (having a body mass index – BMI – of 30 or greater) has a significant impact.
In fact, recent research suggests that obese people are up to 80 times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than those with a BMI of less than 22.
So losing weight and bringing your BMI below this value is one of the most important, and controllable, ways to reduce your risk of Type 2 diabetes. And according to research, simply optimizing your protein intake can help you achieve rapid weight loss results – even with light-to-moderate exercising.
Thanks to Thinner You Centers, the following infographic on protein for weight loss contains science-based information about the effects of protein intake on body composition, and how to calculate your optimal protein intake for maximum weight loss potential!
Click here to view YOUR SECRET WEAPON WEIGHT LOSS INFOGRAPHIC!
Why be active?
Being physically active keeps children fit and healthy. There are also many social, emotional and educational benefits, which lead to:
Healthy bodies: Regular activity builds a healthy heart, burns excess energy to help maintain a healthy weight and can prevent or delay type 2 diabetes as well as other chronic diseases.
Positive self esteem: Activity helps children feel good and try new skills.
Social skills: Group activity provides the chance to make friends, build confidence and learn team-building skills.
Good mental health: Activity can reduce stress, anxiety and depression.
Better grades: Activity can improve memory, creativity and problem-solving.
Tips to get moving
Be active as a family – walk to school, play at the park or swim at a local pool.
Choose activities that fit the ability and interests of your child – soccer, biking, ball hockey or skipping.
Encourage kids to participate in team sports at school – focus on the social ‘fun’ part and less on winning.
Make a ‘Top 10’ list of activities to get kids active and away from the TV and computer.
Join an after-school activity at your community centre – basketball, football, gymnastics.
Encourage play time – outside or inside (dancing, balloon volleyball, bean bag games).
Offer a variety of activities – a balance of organized and active play; competitive and informal; individual and team.
Cut back on screen time
Screen time (TV, video and computer game time) takes children away from sports, games and active play. Limit screen time to less than 1 – 2 hours a day. Make it your goal to:
Keep children active after school.
Avoid using the TV and computer as a babysitter.
Keep the TV off during meals and avoid snacking in front of the screen.
Active children become active adults. By encouraging children to be physically active, you are helping to establish healthy lifelong habits.
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