Last week the Centers for Disease Control predicted that by 2050 one-third of people in the U.S. could have diabetes! With the obesity epidemic growing worse all the time, type 2 diabetes is becoming increasingly common in children and teenagers. Type 2 diabetes once primarily only affected older adults, but now many children are unable to make enough insulin or properly use insulin to turn the glucose in food into energy.
Most new cases of diabetes are type 2, and obesity plays a primary role in the development of the disease in many of those cases. Unless a better job is done preventing diabetes, we can only expect to see the number of cases of type 2 diabetes rise.
The simple truth is that studies done by researchers at Joslin Diabetes Center have found that even modest weight loss and regular, moderate exercise (like walking) can cut the risk of developing diabetes by more than half.
For parents, the best thing that can be done is to lead by example and support their children’s efforts to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Here are 12 great tips for having healthy and diabetes-free children.
- Make lifestyle changes a team effort, involving the whole family.
- Start by setting aside one day a week for a physical activity with the whole family, gradually increasing the time.
- Introduce simple changes gradually.
- Turn off the television, computer and video games and go for a walk or bike ride with your children.
- Advocate for more physical education programs in the schools and recreation programs in your community.
- Get pedometers for everyone in the family to track how many steps they take in a day.
- Encourage healthy eating habits.
- Reduce portion sizes at home and at fast-food restaurants.
- Teach kids to slow down and taste their food.
- Avoid using food as a reward or as source of entertainment.
- Reorganize what, where and when your children snack.
- Teach them to read food labels and let them help plan and prepare meals.