Childhood obesity in the U.S. is a highly prevalent issue. According to a 2020 study by the CDC, childhood obesity affects almost 20% of the child population. While certain types of diabetes are non-preventable, the obesity epidemic has increased diabetes in children. Many people do not associate diabetes with children, but the connection is certainly there. A common form of diabetes in children is directly linked to diet and exercise; therefore, learning the risk factors can help prevent childhood diabetes.
The health of your children is our top priority at HealthPark Pediatrics. We can help treat and provide preventative measures to ensure their healthiest self. With how prevalent childhood obesity is, diabetes in children follows along. You may be surprised to learn the following facts regarding childhood diabetes.
Diabetes in Children
- Children can get both types of diabetes.
There are two types of diabetes to be familiar with: type 1 and type 2. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune condition in which one’s body no longer produces insulin efficiently. It is a disease passed down genetically, diagnosed at birth or later in life. Type 2 diabetes also has a genetic risk but is more correlated to one’s diet and exercise habits. This condition affects how a child’s body processes sugar or glucose for fuel.
Type 1 diabetes used to be more commonly associated with children, while type 2 diabetes coined the term adult-onset diabetes. However, as mentioned earlier, the rise in childhood obesity has caused a spike in children with type 2 diabetes.
- Type 1 diabetes is referred to as “juvenile” diabetes.
The name “juvenile” diabetes came to be because type 1 can be diagnosed at birth and is frequently seen in children. However, type 1 diabetes is not specific to children; it can also be diagnosed in adults. In fact, about 30% of diagnoses occur in people in young adulthood.
- Type 2 diabetes can be prevented in children.
There are more cases of type 2 diabetes recorded in America than type 1 diabetes. An estimated 16 million Americans have type 2 diabetes, not including the predicted millions who have not been diagnosed. Risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes include being overweight, lack of physical activity, poor diet, and family history. Therefore, many lifestyle adjustments can help prevent this condition.
Encourage a healthy diet in your children’s lifestyle. Fill their plates with high-nutrient foods low in fat and calories, and eliminate high-calorie or sugary foods. It’s also recommended to get at least 60 minutes of physical activity daily. Make this a fun family activity to get you and your child’s body moving.
- There are protection laws in place to prevent discrimination against children with diabetes.
According to Section 504 and The Education of Children with Disabilities, children with diabetes are protected in schools. This law ensures a child’s full participation in school while still caring for their medical needs. For example, schools can not fault student absence due to diabetes, they can not refuse to administer medication, and they can not exclude students from sports or extracurricular activities due to illness.
- Children with diabetes can still lead a full life.
Treatment for the type of diabetes varies, but they are manageable. Both require monitoring blood sugar and improving diet and exercise; however, type 1 diabetes includes taking insulin injections. Type 1 diabetes is not curable, so insulin is a lifelong treatment method. As parents, establishing a routine of the child’s treatment methods will create longer-lasting habits for when they are older.
With the help of their family, and consistent doctor visits, there is no reason why your child can’t participate in regular childhood activities. Find a way to treat or manage diabetes in a way that is not viewed as negative. Build a lifestyle that prioritizes their health without stripping it of fun elements.
Get In Touch With Us
Diabetes is becoming one of the most common diseases among our youth population. If you believe your child may be a candidate for diabetes based on the risk factors, consult with their doctor for a possible diagnosis. To consult with one of our pediatricians, call us at (919) 896-7066.