First, I’d like you to consider these facts:
From the American Diabetes Association (ADA, diabetes.org):
– About 2 million adolescents ages 12-19 years old have pre-diabetes.
– About 1 in every 400-600 children and adolescents has type 1 diabetes.
– 186,300 of 84 million (.22%) children under 20 years of age have diabetes.
– Someone is diagnosed with diabetes in the United States every 20 seconds.
From the Centers for Disease Control (CDC.gov):
– Since 1990, type 2 diabetes has doubled in the children/adolescents population.
– Childhood obesity increases the risk for sleep apnea, bone and joint issues, increased risk of diabetes, increased risk for high blood pressure, increased risk for stress and psychological problems, as well as dyslipidemia (amount of fat in blood) and inflammation in the blood vessels.
– Type 2 diabetes is mostly seen in children/teens who are 10-19 years old, obese, show insulin resistance, and have a family history of the disease.
Study Shows Type 2 Diabetes Affects Children’s Learning
A study done at NYU Langone Medical Center showed reduced brain function in adolescents with type 2 diabetes. The children had reduced mental capacities in memory, judgment, reasoning, learning, spelling and reading ability. Obviously, school performance was decreased. The developing brain can be damaged due to multiple metabolic changes brought on by pre-diabetes and diabetes. Increased sugar and blood pressure leads to inflammation which causes changes to the young brain.
What Needs to Be Done?
Whether you are a parent, grandparent, teacher, aunt, uncle or coach, we call can play an important role in a child’s health. The current state of the health of our children is alarming. What is more alarming is much of the obesity, type 2 diabetes, early onset of cardiovascular disease and other child health issues IS PREVENTABLE. Here are my recommendations:
– Be Aware. Parents, teachers and pediatricians need to recognize warning signs and provide guidance to children. The first lady, Michelle Obama, has instituted the “Let’s Move” program to target childhood obesity and is considering it one of the goals of the Obama Administration.
– Know their Body Mass Index (BMI). BMI charts are used to screen for weight issues that could lead to chronic health problems.
– Replace juice drinks and sodas. Replace juice drinks and 100% juice with water or flavored, non-calorie waters. Liquid calories add up much faster than food calories. I recommend one 100% juice drink per day and soda only on occasion.
– Increase play time. Include one hour per day of real play with old-fashioned movement. Role playing, running, bicycling, family walks. (This is beneficial for parents and grandparents, too!)
– Limit video game, computer and TV time to 2 hours per day. Video games, hand held games, TV and computers cause children to be sedentary.
– Introduce health and nutrition talk at the dinner table. Make dinner a time to connect and learn from each other.
– Increase fruits and vegetables up to 9 servings a day. Try to limit box, bag or carton foods which have more sodium, fat, sugar and calories. If you cannot afford fresh fruits and vegetables, frozen options are still good sources of fiber, vitamins and nutrients.
– Allow children to participate in food preparation. This is can be fun and educational for children. Try different presentations of healthy foods to get children excited about wholesome food.
One of my most important recommendations is for parents and other adults to participate and lead by example. This is great for our children and we adults can stay healthy, too!