Pre-diabetes in children ages 12 to 19 rose from 9% to 23% over the study period of 1999-2008, according to a recent study published by the American Academy of Pediatrics. The conclusion of the study indicated that American adolescents carry a substantial burden of cardiovascular risk factors, especially those that are overweight.
What are some risk factors that lead to pre-diabetes in children? An article found at diabetes.com.sg indicates:
- Family history
- Eating habits
- Inadequate sleep
While some factors are outside of anyone’s control, what can parents do to stop the increase of pre-diabetes in children? How about:
- Offer Healthy snacks such as fruit, cheese, or yogurt rather than cookies and a candy bar
- Cut T.V./screen hours
- Get kids active both indoor and out
- Become more involved in their life
- Set a good example
My wife is better at the above suggestions than I am. She takes the kids to the park more frequently and is not tempted to swing through McDonald’s due to lack of time. Both of us try to set a good example for them by going to the gym on a regular basis, where the kids partake in kids activities. Trips to the zoo, camping trips, and other ways for us to enjoy the outdoors as a family keep our kids active, and the T.V. off.
Obesity is one of the main risk factors mentioned above that can lead to pre-diabetes, which is why many hospitals and organizations are creating wellness programs to try and curb this epidemic. For example, it was recently announced that Disney is making an effort to curb childhood obesity by not allowing junk food ads on their stations. Although this will not take affect until 2015, it is definitely a step in the right direction. Young children are obviously easily influenced by commercials on their favorite shows so the less they are exposed to, the better.
Additionally, Michelle Obama is very committed in her efforts to reduce childhood obesity. It is good to see someone with a powerful position utilize that stage for important changes that will hopefully affect the country for years to come.
One last interesting article recently published contends that overweight children have more emergency department visits for due to chronic conditions, including pre-diabetes, than injuries and accidents. It seems the twisted ankles and broken nose due to a basketball injury have been replaced by ailments related to obesity.
When is enough enough? While it’s true that older children need to take responsibility themselves, their activity levels, and their eating habits as they get older, it all starts with us as parents and society in general. We must decide that this is enough, and dedicate ourselves to help our next generations make better decisions that will not only help them live healthier lives, but will impact all of society in a positive way.