National Diabetes Awarness Month
As a mother, part of me is glad Halloween (the most sugary of all holidays) is behind us. And although Thanksgiving and Christmas don’t rank high on the “candy as presents” holiday list, it is fair to assume a good amount of sugar is still coming our way in the form of cookies, cakes, pies, and other delicious sweets. Like most parents, I worry about how much sugar my child is consuming.
We all know that too much sugar is not healthy for our kids, but it’s frightening to see how quickly the rate of children with Type 2 diabetes is rising in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) the percentage of children aged 6–11 in the United States who were obese increased from 7% in 1980 to nearly 20% in 2008.
We typically think of Type 2 diabetes as something that happens to people when they get older, but the CDC data shows that the number of children with Type 2 diabetes has tripled in the last 30 years.
What is diabetes?
Diabetes is a disease in which blood glucose levels are above normal. Most of the food we eat is turned into glucose, or sugar, which our bodies use for energy. The pancreas, an organ that lies near the stomach, makes a hormone called insulin to help glucose get into the cells of our bodies. When you have diabetes, your body either doesn’t make enough insulin or can’t use its own insulin as well as it should. This causes sugar to build up in your blood.
There are two different types of diabetes.
According to the National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse (NDIC):
- Type 1 diabetes was previously known as juvenile diabetes because it typically was onset during childhood. People with Type 1 diabetes are insulin dependent. The body’s immune system attacks the hormone, insulin which breaks down sugar. All of this occurs in the pancreas. To treat this type of diabetes, a patient may be asked to inject insulin or other types of medicine, in addition to eating right, exercising, and possibly taking aspirin to control blood pressure or cholesterol.
- Type 2 diabetes was previously known as adult onset diabetes because it typically showed up in adults and not children. A person with this type of diabetes develops a condition in which the fat, muscle, and liver cells fail to use insulin properly. If you are overweight and inactive, your chances are higher of developing Type 2 diabetes.
What can parents do? Focus on prevention.
The Mayo Clinic advises parents to make sure your children are receiving adequate exercise, eating right, and maintaining a healthy weight.
With the holidays around the corner this could be challenging. Here are 5 tips from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) on how to decrease the sugar intake in your child’s diet:
- Serve smaller portions -Seems simple enough and if done strategically, the kids might not notice.
- Sip smarter. -Don’t serve sugary drinks. Take it off the menu completely
- Use the checkout lane that does not display candy. -If it’s not possible, set the no sweets rule before you step into the store.
- Choose not to offer sweets as rewards. –Glorifying sugary treats as a reward is counter-productive.
- Make fruit the everyday desert. -I’ve done this at my house. The protest was short-lived.
Detection and treatment are the key to your child’s health. Be aware of Prediabetes.
One way to prevent the onset of Type 2 diabetes is to pay attention to prediabetes, which is the state that occurs when a person’s blood glucose levels are higher than normal but not high enough for a diagnosis of diabetes.
About 11 percent of people with prediabetes in the Diabetes Prevention Program standard or control group developed type 2 diabetes each year during the average 3 years of follow-up. Other studies show that many people with prediabetes develop type 2 diabetes in 10 years.
To learn how to detect prediabtes and prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes, you can follow these tips, which will sound awfully familiar; diet, exercise and vigilance.
Photo via Flickr user North Charleston.