Identifying and Preventing Type-2 Diabetes in Kids

Filed under: Health & Safety: Babies, Expert Advice: Babies, Health & Safety: Toddlers & Preschoolers, Expert Advice: Toddlers & Preschoolers, Expert Advice: Big Kids

Type-2 diabetes is no longer a disease of the adult population. Unfortunately, kids as young as 10 years old are developing the disease at an alarming rate. Parents who are aware of the signs, symptoms and risk factors for developing type-2 diabetes are better equipped to prevent their kids from becoming a part of this growing epidemic. Maintaining a healthy body weight by leading a healthy lifestyle of balanced eating and vigorous exercise is a great start.

What is Type-2 Diabetes?
As discussed in my previous post, your body needs insulin to use the energy 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 it makes. If you have type-2 diabetes, glucose builds up in your blood instead of being used for energy. In the long run, consistent high blood sugar has many detrimental effects on your health.

Tips for identifying and preventing type-2 diabetes, after the jump...


Screening Short List
Along with common symptoms such as frequent urination and excessive thirst, the following is a short list of markers to keep in mind when screening your child for type-2 diabetes:

  • Children older than 10 years of age or at the onset of puberty.
  • Children whose body mass index (BMI) is greater than the 85th percentile for age and sex
  • Family history of type-2 diabetes
  • Ethnic background of African-American, Hispanic, American Indian, Asian, or Pacific Islander origin
  • Overweight or obese child

Exercise Recommendations
A sedentary lifestyle is one of the major risk factors for developing type-2 diabetes as it leads to your kids becoming overweight or obese. According to the Canadian Diabetes Association, a healthy lifestyle can significantly reduce the risk of developing type-2 diabetes. Studies suggest that moderate weight loss and regular physical activity can reduce the risk of type-2 diabetes by more than 50 percent.

Unfortunately, there is no cure for diabetes, nor is there an identified cause. Once diagnosed, the focus is on controlling the disease and preventing future complications such as cardiovascular disease, blindness and nerve damage. Following a vigorous workout routine that includes aerobic and strength exercises, is the most effective first line of defense. The minimum recommendation is 60 minutes of vigorous daily activity. A combination of running, biking, swimming, push ups, squats, jumping jacks and team sports should be enough to keep your kids fit and entertained in the process.

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.