Obese children have a high risk of developing type 2 diabetes, especially those with a history of diabetes in their family. Other high risk factors include high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
The good news is that studies have demonstrated that type 2 diabetes is preventable. You, the parent, are primarily responsible for preventing diabetes in “high risk” children. The sooner you begin, the less likely your child is to develop diabetes. Prevention intervention can occur at an early stage when blood sugar levels are still normal. It can also start later on when blood sugar levels are elevated but before the diagnosis of diabetes.
What are the interventions that can delay or even prevent type 2 diabetes in “high-risk” children? They are lifestyle changes that concentrate on weight reduction and maintenance along with increased physical activity. In order to lose the extra pounds slowly and safely, your child must be placed on a nutritious, well-balanced, and low-calorie diet. The diet should be low in saturated fats, cholesterol, and sugary junk foods. The cornerstones of such a diet are skim milk, lean meats, and fewer visits to fast food restaurants. Fad diets or drug treatment are not recommended for children. They do not work. Consult your doctor to help develop a sensible food plan that your child will be happy to follow.
A lack of exercise is also strongly associated with the development of type 2 diabetes and also predisposes children to high blood pressure and high blood cholesterol levels. It is up to you to encourage your child to increase physical activity to at least 30 minutes of exercise a day and to limit sedentary activities like excessive television watching and playing video games.
Health professionals, including doctors, should become more involved in developing school and community-based programs that promote improved nutrition and increased physical activity for all children and their families.
Although type 2 diabetes is a very serious illness with severe complications, it can be prevented. Unfortunately, the number of children developing diabetes continues to increase. Remember that this illness is usually associated with obesity and with the lack of regular physical exercise. Parents must assume more responsibility in regulating what their children eat and in encouraging a healthy lifestyle of regular physical activity and exercise. Take control, and reduce your child’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
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