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No Longer An Adults-Only Disease

Dec 20, 2007
Obesity, lack of exercise lead to Type 2 diabetes in children. The rate of obesity in children ages 5-17 has gone from 5% in 1980 to about 18% today. Being obese increases the risk of a child developing type 2 diabetes, and experts say they are now seeing an alarming number of cases of the disease in children. According to the studies we have seen an increase in type 2 diabetes among children concurrent with the increase in childhood obesity.

Overeating, poor diet and lack of exercise explain most of the increase in childhood obesity associated with type 2 diabetes.

Of all people, adults and children, diagnosed with diabetes, 50 percent have type 2. It used to be that of all those with diabetes, only 10 percent had type 2. In type 1 diabetes, the body does not make enough insulin. In type 2 diabetes, formerly called adult-onset diabetes, the body produces insulin, but doesn't use it properly or becomes resistant to it.

Insulin is a hormone that is produced by the pancreas, a gland that is located close to the stomach. When we eat a meal, insulin is secreted into the bloodstream. Insulin then causes sugar to go from the bloodstream into the cells. In diabetes, the body cannot control the amount of sugar in the blood. Glucose starts to build up in the blood, which can lead to type 2 diabetes.

It used to be more common in children of certain races, such as American Indian, African American, Hispanic and Asian American descent to have type 1 diabetes. Females were also more prone to type 2 than males. Now children are being diagnosed from all ethnic groups, and there are as many boys as girls.
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Children and teenagers are more likely to get type 2 diabetes if they are overweight. Other factors that can increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes are inactivity and a family member with type 2 diabetes.

Diabetes is a serious disease that can affect nearly every organ of the body, including the heart, blood vessels, eyes, kidneys and feet. Some of the signs or symptoms of diabetes are increased thirst and frequent urination, increased hunger, weight loss and fatigue.

Parents who are concerned that their child may be overweight and thus at risk for developing type 2 diabetes should schedule an appointment with the child's pediatrician. A random blood sugar or a fasting blood sugar level will help to confirm or rule out the diagnosis. Glucose tests and sometimes other blood tests are also performed when diabetes is suspected. Keeping blood sugars as close to normal as possible is very important in reducing the risk of complications from diabetes.

One of the most important things is prevention. We should all encourage children to eat right and to exercise. All children should exercise for at least one hour almost every day. Computers, video games and television have replaced outdoor activities for millions of children resulting causing the greater risk of having type 2 diabetes.

In addition to exercise, it is suggested to involve children in meal planning to help keep their bodies healthy. The portions children consume can be monitored by parents and that factor alone should be.
About the Author
Steven Johnson is interested in maintaining a vital, active, and healthy lifestyle. For information and products on weight loss and other life-enhancing nutrients please visit his website
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