Overweight Kids at Risk for Type-2 Diabetes

Filed under: Medical Conditions

Type-2 diabetes has historically been understood as a disease predominantly found in adults. It was once referred to as non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM) or adult-onset diabetes. Apart from a family history of the disease, one of the main risk factors for developing type-2 diabetes is being overweight or obese. Current research findings suggest that kids are now developing type-2 diabetes as early as 10 years old, or at the onset of puberty.

Parents should certainly be alarmed by this news, as type-2 diabetes carries along with it many gruesome and life-changing consequences. However, since the main risk factor associated with the disease is obesity due to an inactive lifestyle and poor dietary habits, the disease is considered highly preventable.

How to lower your child's risk of type-2 diabetes, after the jump...

What is Type-2 Diabetes?
Your body needs insulin to use the energy that it makes from food. In type-2 diabetes, either the pancreas cannot produce enough of the hormone insulin to regulate blood sugar levels, or your body does not properly use the insulin that it makes. If you have type-2 diabetes, glucose builds up in your blood instead of being used for energy.

Research Findings in Type 2 Diabetes in Kids
According to the Canadian Diabetes Association, there has been a 10- to 30-fold increase in American children with type-2 diabetes in the past 10 to 15 years. The majority of these children are from African, Hispanic and Asian descent. It was also noted that one in every three American children born in the year 2000 will likely be diagnosed with diabetes in their lifetime.

As far as Canada is concerned, type-2 diabetes is being diagnosed in Canadian First Nations children as young as eight years of age, and the incidence appears to be increasing rapidly.

In the next 15 years, it is anticipated that the global incidence of type-2 diabetes in children will increase by up to 50 percent.

Potential Ramifications
In type 2-diabetes, the resulting high blood sugar levels (hyperglycemia) can lead to a condition called glucose toxicity. In this scenario, the pancreas is damaged, limiting the body's ability to produce insulin. Over time, high blood glucose levels can cause complications such as blindness, heart disease, kidney problems and nerve damage.

The Good News
On a brighter note, type-2 diabetes is absolutely preventable in kids. It's as simple as maintaining a normal body weight. Parents should focus on helping their kids adopt a healthy lifestyle that includes 60 minutes of daily vigorous activity and eating well-balanced meals. Portion control is extremely important. Many nutrition professionals are recommending frequent, smaller meals (4-6 per day) as opposed to the typical 3 large meals per day.

Reggie Reyes is a certified kinesiologist and personal trainer. He is the president and founder of pt4kids a company that creates specialized training programs for kids all ages and fitness levels.

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.