American Diabetes Month – Diabetes Starts in Youth: How To Coach Good Eating Habits in Children


In the United States, childhood obesity has reached epidemic proportions, threatening to be the harbinger of obesity-related type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. According to the WHO, the incidence of obesity is growing rapidly among the adult and pediatric population throughout the world. A Yale University study claims that early signs of type 2 diabetes are apparent in 1 in 4 obese kids in the US.

Unfortunately, this type of diabetes was earlier seen only in adults and is strongly linked to obesity and lack of physical activity. A University of Michigan study puts the figure of diabetic children at 229,000 in the country, of which one-third are obese. The study asserts that obese children are twice at the risk of diabetes than normal kids and that diabetes type 2 progresses more quickly and is equally harder to treat in children than adults, which is a cause for serious concern.

The Obesity-Diabetes Connection in Kids
As children’s waistlines continue to grow, there is an increasing concern that obesity will mark the onset of diabetes in many of them even before they have graduated high school. Overweight or obese children are at a high risk of negative health consequences in both the short and long term. The effects of obesity include:

  • high blood pressure
  • hormonal and chemical changes
  • high cholesterol
  • metabolic changes

These effects can be easily identified in obese children. Unfortunately, once established, the problem is notoriously hard to treat, thus early intervention and prevention of obesity are crucial for a healthy and happy future. Poorly controlled weight can cause a series of serious complications, such as:

  • heart disease
  • diabetes
  • kidney failure
  • nerve damage
  • visionary problems

Studies predict that childhood obesity threatens to shorten the average lifespan of children by two to five years, as related health conditions are more likely to strike them at a younger age. Children are consuming more calories, especially in the form of sugar-sweetened beverages, sodas, cookies, and fast food, and burning only a few of them.

Diabetes is a major problem that causes a plethora of health issues for people as they get older, especially if they don’t do anything to curb the eating habits that they developed from their parents when they were younger. The complications of childhood obesity are serious and shocking. It requires concerted efforts on the part of parents to find ways to reduce rate of childhood obesity and save their kids from severe health complications in the future. The need of the hour is a family-based approach of education, fostering good nutrition and an active lifestyle.

If you want your child to stay fit and healthy, put healthy food out on the dining table. If they don’t eat vegetables or fruits, try disguising them in the form of soups or juices. The goal is to motivate them to start a healthy dietary regimen. Set an example by not keeping confectionery items around the house and by introducing healthy eating habits.

Bottom Line
When it comes to dealing with childhood obesity, prevention must start in the womb. But if your child is still showing signs of being overweight or obesity, the time to change is now. Take action to prevent the situation from blowing out of proportions and save your child from being in the category of 1 in 4 obese kids in the country who are at a higher risk of obesity-related diabetes.

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