More children and young adolescents are developing type two diabetes today than at any other time in our in our recent past. Dr. Chaudhuri, a pediatrician at a local clinic in Maryland, states that she is witnessing a “growing number of youngsters” coming into her practice being diagnosed with type two diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes is to be distinguished from type 1 in that those in the latter group develop a condition where the pancreatic beta cell don’t produce insulin and the person must depend on an external source to survive. Type two diabetics, on the other hand produce insulin, but either their body doesn’t use it properly or there isn’t enough of it shuttle sugars from the blood to the cells for energy — resulting in a condition known as insulin resistance.
Insulin resistance — the abnormal build-up of glucose (sugar) in the blood, can lead to heart disease, blindness, peripheral neuropathy and kidney failure among other things. This is no way for a youngster to start their journey through life.
This disease has no racial or gender barriers and tends to affect people from all socioeconomic background.
Reasons for increased diabetes in children
The main reason for the rapid increase of type 2 diabetes in children is abnormal weight gain. This due to several things including:
– The foods our children and young people have access to.
With so many media channels available to the food industry, it’s difficult to avoid the junk they put in their products that ultimately makes it way into our kid’s diet. We are consuming more added sugars and sugar substitutes, salt and exotic sounding chemicals than ever before. For example . . . what kid doesn’t love a hot dog or hamburger with fries smothered in ketchup and mustard? Did you know that one of the main ingredient in ketchup is sugar?
– Television shows vie for viewership by offering so many varieties of programing that it’s difficult to not get caught up for hours on end. In fact some teachers assign their students shows to watch for purposes of gaining information on subject taught in the classroom.
– Many schools don’t offer indoor or outdoor activities in which children can participate and get some form of physical activity.
I remember as a youngster in school we had phys ed everyday and for some it was the favorite time of their school day. In fact many current and past top athletes attribute this early introduction to sporting activities as the reason they became who they are today.
– If you have seen or even played some the new computer games on the market today you can understand why they are so addictive. One game in particular called World of Warcraft is so involved that is takes days to complete.
– Stress not only affects adults but also children and teenagers. Although it doesn’t directly cause weight gain it can be a contributing factor.
– Youngsters going through puberty experience many hormonal changes which can result in undue stress. This is one of the leading causes of diabetes.
What can you do as a parent or guardian?
The food industry should not be allowed to use children to get to their parents pocketbook. Limit or prohibit the consumption of sugary drinks. Food conglomerates should not be allowed to dictate the meal program in schools.
Know the signs of diabetes and monitor your kids closely. If they complain of blurred vision or if they are sweating more than normal or peeing excessively then it may be time to see a doctor. Other signs to look for are unusual thirst, dry mouth and unexplained weight loss.
My thoughts on kids developing diabetes is fairly basic. I think parents and teachers must encourage daily activity at home and in school. Whether it’s going outside to play an organized sporting activity or learning to swim or ride a bike – it’s necessary to become active at all levels of growth if we are to stem the tide of increasing incidences of diabetes in our kids.
If facilities are not available at home or in school then kids should be allowed to join the local YMCA or youth group where they can participate in supervised physical activities.
Television time should be limited and computer games monitored and even restricted to a certain window each day.
Most importantly, all foods consumed by kids must be as close to natural as possible. The food industry is a giant and has a lot of lobbying power before our politicians – local and national. Join with groups that are focused on changing the ways food is produce and packaged and support local farmers by buying produce grown in your area.
If we are to put the brakes of diabetes . . . . a good place to start is with our children.
Visit exercises for diabetics today for information on starting an exercise program that will help to get you and our young ones back to health and fitness and avoid this dreaded disease.