How to Manage Childhood Diabetes
Diabetes is an inherited or acquired chronic disease pertaining to the inability of the body to metabolize carbohydrates.
There are two main types of Diabetes: Type 1, known as insulin-dependent Diabetes, and Type 2, also known as Insulin-resistant Diabetes.
Diabetes Type 2 is the more common type, and it was formerly known as Adult-Onset Diabetes since it was mostly diagnosed in the adult age group. However, with recent advances in medicine, it is now known that the disease is not limited to adults as it affects children and teenagers alike.
According to the American Diabetes Association, 34.2 million Americans or 10.5% of the population have diabetes, with nearly 6,000 youths newly diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes annually as of 2020.
This is a very alarming statistic since it is known that Diabetes kills more Americans every year than AIDS and breast cancer combined.
To learn more about insulin resistance, SymptomFind’s guide on insulin resistance explains the causes, symptoms, and treatment.
Diabetes in childhood is a growing concern in America and parents should help manage and prevent their children from having diabetes by making healthy lifestyle changes early in childhood.
Here are three recommendations on how to prevent and manage childhood Type 2 Diabetes.
1. Weight Management
According to the American Diabetes Association, 89% of adults with diagnosed Diabetes are overweight or obese. Obesity is a known major risk factor for developing Type 2 Diabetes. Teaching children how to eat a balanced diet with low glycemic index foods at an early age will help reduce the risk for developing Type 2 Diabetes.
A balanced diet will supply their body with the proper nutrition and low-glycemic index foods can prevent their blood glucose from rising too high. Low-glycemic index foods are still possible to find even on a budget. Our article on ‘Healthy Eating on a Budget’ talks about healthy meal planning for kids on a budget, which is definitely worth a read.
Here are examples of low-glycemic index foods that children could enjoy:
- Whole wheat bread
- Brown rice
- Leafy green vegetables
- Apples, pears
- Squash, sweet potatoes
Here are examples of high-glycemic index foods the Children's Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA) says children should avoid or limit:
- White bread
- White potatoes
- Breakfast cereals
- Ice cream
- Pineapples, Watermelon
- Portion Control
Portion control simply means controlling how much food is eaten in one sitting. Increased portion sizes are linked to weight gain and overeating. Parents can prepare their children’s plates with the proper proportion of different food groups. The USDA through Myplate.gov has simple guidelines online that can serve as a reference for parents interested in serving healthy proportionate meals at home, even on a budget.
By practicing portion control at an early age, this develops into a habit that children carry to adulthood, hence, lessening the risk of overindulging in carbohydrates that could lead to diabetes.
- Exercise Regularly
Exercise is good for our health and is a fantastic way to prevent and manage Type 2 Diabetes.
The 2018 study by Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans advises that children ages 6 to 17 years engage in 60 minutes of physical activity every day, including vigorous-intensity, muscle- and bone-strengthening activities at least three days a week. The guidelines suggest that children ages 3 to 5 years should have at least 180 minutes of physical activity throughout the day.
By engaging in physical activity, the child burns calories and lowers blood glucose levels. Glucose provides the energy needed by the muscles to move, which in effect, lowers the blood glucose levels.
Here are the other benefits of exercise:
- Better weight control
- Lower blood pressure
- Stronger muscles
- Stronger bones
- Lean body
- More energy
- Better sleep
Type 2 Diabetes inflicts many children and teenagers.
Parents can help their children manage and prevent this disease by making the right lifestyle changes. For example,
- Starting weight management measures.
- Controlling the portions of what children eat.
- And exercising regularly.
If you think any of your children might be at risk for Type 2 Diabetes, please set an appointment with your pediatrician for proper evaluation and management.