Type 2 diabetes is an unfortunate consequence of the current epidemic of obesity among children and adolescents in the United States, obesity is the hallmark of this type of diabetes.
It use to be called adult-onset diabetes because it mainly occurred in people over 40. Not anymore. In the past two decades the amount of children diagnosed has been rising steadily.
What is Type 2 Diabetes?
The digestive system breaks down carbohydrates into blood sugar glucose. The pancreas creates a hormone called insulin to lead glucose from the blood vessels into the cells of the body to be used for energy.
In type 2 diabetes, the cells in a child’s body are resistant to the effects of insulin and glucose builds up in the bloodstream. Eventually, this causes glucose to reach dangerous levels in the body.
Over time, the body becomes increasingly less able to handle all the glucose in the blood vessels. The high blood sugar can then lead to diabetes complications, such as heart disease, blindness, and kidney failure.
* The single greatest risk factor for type 2 diabetes in children is excess weight. In the U.S., almost one out of every five children is considered to be overweight. Once a child is overweight, chances are more than doubled that the child will develop diabetes. One or more of these factors may contribute to excess weight or obesity.
* Family history of diabetes.
* Lifestyle, lack of physical activity.
* Specific ethnic groups (American Indian, African-American, Asian, or Hispanic/Latino).
* Unhealthy eating habits, like eating sugary, fried and fattening foods.
Symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes in children:
The symptoms of type 2 diabetes in children develop slowly. Initially, there may be no symptoms. Eventually, you may notice one or more of these symptoms:
* Unexplained weight loss
* Increased hunger or thirst, even after eating
* Dry mouth
* Frequent urination
* Blurred vision
* Heavy breathing
* Slow healing of sores or cuts
* Itchy skin
* Numbness or tingling in the hands or feet
How can we prevent it?
The same steps used to treat type 2 diabetes in children can also prevent it. Reduce fats and sweets in your child’s diet. Make sure your child gets at least 30 minutes of physical activity each day. In fact, studies show that exercise has a dramatic effect on reducing insulin resistance. These two strategies can help your child achieve or maintain a normal weight and normal blood sugar levels.