Years ago, diabetes in children was a rarity. Children were most likely to get type 1 diabetes. In fact, it was called juvenile diabetes.
But today, type 2 diabetes is affecting too many children in our country. About 208,000 young people in the U.S. under age 20 had diabetes in 2012. The single biggest cause for this: extra weight. Currently, one in every three children is overweight. Once a child gets too heavy, he or she is twice as likely to get diabetes.
Children with type 2 diabetes are at a higher risk for serious health complications, including:
- Kidney failure
- Heart disease
- Loss of toes, feet or legs
How can you stop your child from becoming part of this epidemic?
- Encourage children to eat healthy foods. With the right guidance and consistency, they’ll consider fruits “sweets” instead of candy.
- Prepare healthy meals. A healthy breakfast will help your child stay focused and active. If you send a lunch with your child, pack a meal that contains whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Replace high-fat foods with low-fat options, such as low-fat turkey, reduced-fat cheese and skim milk. Include healthy snacks, such as fruit, nuts or easy to eat veggies, like baby carrots
- If your child buys meals at school, look at the cafeteria menus together to help them make healthy choices. Many schools post their menus online, or you can request this information from school workers.
- Make sure your child is active. They should get at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day.
- Limit screen time — TV, video games, and the Internet — to 1 to 2 hours a day. This will set the ground rules for a healthier lifestyle.
- Be a role model for fitness. Encourage your child by being active together — doing such things as walking the dog, riding bicycles or playing basketball — and you will get the health benefits too.
- Be a role model for prevention. Children need support from a healthy parent or guardian. So stay active, eat right and make diabetes prevention part of your own health plan.
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