Is Type 2 diabetes on the rise? By the year 2050, the American Diabetes Association predicts that one in three people in the United States will have been diagnosed with diabetes.
Currently 5,000 young people are diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes each year. African-American, Hispanic/Latino, Asian/Pacific Islander and Native American children are at higher risk.
Type 2 diabetes is a condition in which the pancreas still makes insulin; however, it does not make enough, allowing glucose to build up in the blood. High blood glucose can damage many parts of the body such as eyes, heart, kidneys, and nerves. Risk factors for Type 2 diabetes include family history, weight and age.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 86 million people have been diagnosed with pre-diabetes, a condition in which blood glucose levels are higher than normal, the individual has a working pancreas, and the body is resistant to insulin. Pre-diabetes has escalated in children and teens, putting them at increased risk for developing Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke.
Young people may be able to prevent pre-diabetes and extra pounds of body weight by:
■ Drinking water instead of sugar-sweetened drinks such as sodas, juices, sports drinks, and coffee drinks. This reduces 100 calories per serving.
■ Eating more fruits and vegetables instead of candy bars or chips to reduce 200 calories per serving.
■ Making healthy snack foods easy to find in the kitchen. Place grapes, carrots or plain popcorn on the counter.
■ Limiting fast food. Choose salads with dressing on the side, foods that are grilled or broiled, and diet sodas or water.
■ Filling half their plates with colorful (deep green and orange) non-starchy vegetables such as leafy salad greens, broccoli or cabbage. Filling one fourth of the plate with a starchy vegetable or grains, and filling the remaining quarter of the plate with lean meat, poultry, fish, cheese, dairy products, eggs, or dried beans.
Children and teens should get 60 minutes a day of exercise to maintain or lose weight, or to lower blood pressure and cholesterol. You can try activities with your child such as bike rides, a trip to the park or a walk in your neighborhood.
Be aware of some common symptoms of Type 2 diabetes: increased thirst, frequent or nighttime urination, sudden weight loss, fatigue, blurry vision and patches of thick, dark skin under the neck or arms.