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Type 2 diabetes is considered a lifestyle disease. The choices
we make in the food we eat and how much exercise we get have a great impact
on our risk for developing
the disease. Although there is a
strong genetic link
as well, that is only factor; lifestyle choices can add significant risk.
Fast food restaurants can be found everywhere and has broad appeal. Burgers,
fries, and soft drinks are highly appealing to most children, particularly when they see their friends
consuming these foods too. Eating has a big social aspect to it as well -- kids
"hang out" together, and when while they're at it they often go for a
snack. And what's easily accessible and relatively cheap? Fast food.
Fast food has a high amount of fat, salt, refined carbohydrates, and
calories. Consumption of these foods contributes to weight gain.
body weight is linked to type 2 diabetes, and the body becomes less
sensitive to the effects of insulin (a condition known as
a pre-cursor to diabetes).
Children and Exercise
A sedentary or inactive lifestyle is also a diabetes risk factor. Exercise
has many health benefits. It helps to keep blood sugar levels under control,
helps lower blood pressure, improves cholesterol, circulation, mood, and much
more. Another big thing it does is help to with weight management. Exercise
makes losing weight
or maintaining a healthy weight easier.
These days, though, children tend not to exercise regularly. Physical education classes
in school aren't always mandatory, and recess breaks are short. Kids are often bussed or
driven to school. Instead of running around outside, riding bikes, going to the playground,
or other such physical pursuits, children can often be found surfing the internet, playing
video games, watching TV, or talking on their cell phones.
Reducing the Risk of Diabetes in Children
Limit consumption of fast or convenience foods. Prepare healthy
snacks that appeal to children. Involve them in the preparation of their
snacks and ask them which of 2 healthy snacks they would prefer, eg.
"Would you like a banana with peanut butter, or an apple and
piece of cheese?" By keeping them involved, children are more
likely to be interested in the foods you prepare. Many
can give you ideas of healthy snacks that children like.
Encourage exercise. Instead of the kids hanging out eating chips
and playing video games, arrange a game of ball hockey or a day at the
playground or at the pool. Set limits on how much time children can spend
watching TV, playing video games, or using the computer. Encourage activity
by doing things together as a family, like going for a bike ride or a hike.
Be a good role model. If you're eating junk food and sitting around
the house, it's hard to convince a child that they should do otherwise.
Join your children in healthy eating and regular exercise.
Type 2 diabetes in children is on the increase. Modern conveniences
and a busy lifestyle can make it all too easy to engage in poor eating
and exercise habits. Fortunately, lifestyle changes can help to delay
or even prevent the onset of diabetes in children.
The information on this website is based on our own research and personal experience,
and is not a substitute for medical advice. Questions about your health and individual
situation should be directed to your doctor.