Most people think that juvenile Diabetes (type 1) is the only form of diabetes in children. It is not and it saddens me to write that type 2 is steadily increasing among all children regardless of country of origin, race or ethnicity. Type 2 Diabetes is the most common form of Diabetes in adults, usually requiring oral anti diabetic medication and possibly insulin. The complications of diabetes whether type 1 or type 2 includes the following: heart disease, stroke, hypertension, blindness, kidney disease and nerve damage.
Type 2 diabetes is all about insulin resistance. Either the body does not produce enough insulin to allow sugar into the cell to be converted to energy or the cells cannot use the insulin produced (insulin resistance.) According to the ADA, 18.8 million people have been diagnosed with diabetes. Seven million people have it but are undiagnosed. About 79 million people are considered pre diabetic.
Before one becomes a full member of the Type 2 Diabetic set, there is a term used that leads up to the crowning title of full-fledged diabetic. This term is “pre diabetic." Pre-diabetes is a condition, in which, people have blood glucose levels higher than normal but do not yet fit the criteria for diabetes. In 2005-2008, 35 percent of US citizens 20 or older had pre diabetes and 50 percent were over the age of 65. One might ask the question “why is this pediatric nurse writing about adults?" The answer is simple. These adults were children at some point and their lifestyle behaviors led them through the Domino-like reaction leading to diabetes.
The foundations of sedentary lifestyle and poor food choices are laid down in childhood. For instance, 66 percent of children with obese parents have a greater risk of obesity before adulthood. If one parent is obese, the risk of the child being obese before adulthood drops to 50 percent. High calorie diets with little nutritive values are easily identified in obese children. According to the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, obese youth aged 6-16, who had a decreased level of vitamin D, also had an increase in insulin resistance. This insulin resistance is a precursor to type 2 Diabetes. Even poor nutrition during fetal development and early infancy has been associated with type 2 diabetes in later life. Higher fat consumption and increased cholesterol intake has been noted in children of certain groups considered to be at higher risk for type 2 Diabetes. These groups of kids include African Americans, Latino and Asian children. Caucasian kids have higher rates of insulin resistance than ever before.
Pre-diabetes gives one time to change their lot. Studies have shown that weight loss and lifestyle changes can stay off type 2 diabetes and may even eradicate it from the realm of possibilities. I would like to go a step further and make children and adults non pre diabetic. The best form of medicine is prevention. It is cost effective too. In 2007, diabetes cost 116 Billion dollars in direct medical costs. Fifty eight Billion dollars was associated with indirect costs such as work loss, disability and premature death.
The National Diabetes Education Program has suggested the following to be healthy and prevent insulin resistance issues:
1. Make healthy food choices. Use whole grains, nonfat or low fat milk, increase your fruits and vegetables, while decreasing carbohydrates.
2. Eat the right amount of food. Overeating means more calories.
3. Stay away from sugary soft drinks, which have empty calories and can do harm to bone density too.
4. Maintain a healthy weight.
5. Be physically active every day. Encourage local school systems to offer PE every day.
Teaching children good healthy habits and engraining these habits from young will last a lifetime. Recognize that children learn from example and that speaks volumes. Here are some great web sites for more information and stay well.
For more information, visit www.foodpyramid.com and http://ndep.nih.gov/teens/make healthyfoodchoices.aspx.