5 Ways to Help Prevent Childhood Diabetes
After a recent study showed an increase in type 1 and type 2 diabetes in children, you, as a parent, may be concerned about if and how diabetes can be prevented. With your involvement, it can be.
Type 1 diabetes is a disorder that causes your immune system to work against your pancreas, so your body doesn’t create insulin. This type of diabetes is not preventable and is difficult to predict. Type 2 diabetes, which used to be referred to as adult onset diabetes, is a different form of the disease in which your body does not process or respond to insulin correctly. This kind of diabetes is often preventable with a little work and attentive parenting.
More and more, doctors see type 2 diabetes developing in overweight children with poor diets. To prevent diabetes, kids have to eat right. Encourage and serve fresh, whole foods and eliminate processed snacks (which add way too much sugar to your diet). Eat more fruits and vegetables in your meals. Stop using fast food as an option when you’re busy. And, finally, get everyone in your family to drink more water. Cut out sugary beverages altogether.
Researchers agree that weight control is key to preventing diabetes. You’ve started eating right to control weight, but you also need to get your family active. Kids should be getting at least 60 minutes of physical activity a day. Encourage more walking to nearby places and activities. Limit all screen time to no more than two hours a day. Start some outdoor hobbies and get your kids interested in team sports.
The best way to get kids on board with good nutrition and an active lifestyle is to educate them. Tell them what sugar does to their bodies. Explain to them what diabetes is and how they can protect themselves. And teach them how to eat well. You can make them part of the process by teaching them how to fill a proper meal plate with the correct amount of vegetables, protein and starch. It can become a game for them.
To keep your kids healthy and active and help prevent type 2 diabetes, you have to mirror the behavior yourself. You have to eat nutritional meals with them and avoid sugary treats. You have to make an effort to get active so they can see that you too enjoy exercising and turning off the television. Limit your own screen time and show them your enthusiasm for having a healthy lifestyle.
To be able to prevent type 2 diabetes in your kids, you have to pay attention. You need to be aware of their habits. You have to be the person in charge of what they’re eating, even when they’re not with you. You have to be the one who knows how long they’ve been playing video games. You have to make sure they're getting the nutrients they need to grow.
You also need to watch for the warning signs. If you’re concerned about your child developing type 2 diabetes, watch for increased thirst, frequent or nighttime urination, blurred vision and unusual fatigue. Then, talk to your doctor.