If you’ve seen the headlines recently about the alarming increase of Type 2 diabetes among children and teens, you may be concerned about the possibilit yof your child developing diabetes. It’s a very real worry. Researchers estimate that 1 of every 3 children born in the year 200 will develop Type 2 diabetes during his lifetime. However, diabetes is largely preventable. Knowing the risk factors can help you instill good eating and lifestyle habits in your child from the very start.
A Little About Diabetes
There are two main types of diabetes that affect the general population. Type 1 diabetes, also known as juvenile diabetes and insulin dependent diabetes, which occurs when the body can not produce sufficient insulin for its needs. Insuline dependent diabetes is also known as Type 2 diabetes. While there is a great deal of promising research being done in the field of diabetes, there is currently no cure for either type. It is possible, however, to slow the progress or prevent the development of Type 2 diabetes.
People with Type 2 diabetes may produce insulin, but their bodies don’t use it properly for one or more reasons. It has always been known as “adult onset diabetes”, and used to be called “sugar diabetes”, or more colloquially, “the sugar”. Until recently, Type 2 diabetes was considered to be a disease that affects those of middle age and older, but in recent years, the incidence of Type 2 diabetes in children and teens has increased dramatically.
Your Child and Diabetes – Risk Factors
Researchers blame the increasing incidence of childhood obesity for the rise in diabetes and other diet-related diseases in children. Diet and exercise both have been shown to play a major factor in the way the body produces and uses insulin — a chemical the body uses to process sugar and transform it into energy. These are the major risk factors for Type 2 diabetes.
Lifestyle Diabetes Risk Factors
– Obesity is one of the major risk factors associated with diabetes. If your child is overweight, he carries a greatly increased risk of developing diabetes.
– Sedentary lifestyle is a second major risk factor for diabetes. Physical activity plays an important role in the way that your body produces and uses insulin. If your child spends most of his time watching television and playing video games, he is increasing his risk of developing diabetes.
– Diet is the third major lifestyle risk factor for diabetes. A diet high in processed foods and starchy, sugary snacks is definitely linked to a higher risk of developing diabetes.
Health and History Risk Factors for Type 2 Diabetes
– Low and high birth weight babies both have an increased risk of developing diabetes. If your child was less than 5 pounds or more than 10 pounds at birth, they are at increased risk for diabetes.
– Race also plays a part in diabetes risk. Research has shown higher levels of diabetes among those of African, Asian, Native American and Pacific Island descent.
– Genetics also adds to the risk of diabetes. If parents, immediate relatives or close family members have diabetes, there is an increased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.
– Girls with polycystic ovary syndrome are at increased risk for developing diabetes.
The Good News about Your Child and Diabetes
While many of the factors listed above are unchangeable, the factors with the biggest impact on diabetes risk ARE changeable. Research over the past decade has repeatedly sown that a healthy diet and moderate daily exercise reduces the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes by as much as 58%. If your child has any of the risk factors associated with Type 2 diabetes, the best thing you can do for him is to encourage a healthy diet, help him lose weight and encourage moderate exercise for about a half hour daily.
In other words, pull your child away from the television and make him put down that Gameboy. Send him out to ride his bike or take a walk around the part. While you’re at it, put down your work for half an hour and go with him. It will do you as much good as it does your child.