Type 2 diabetes is usually considered an adult disease, but according to recent statistics, childhood type 2 diabetes is on the rise–and it could get worse. Although genetics can play a role, a child’s eating and exercise habits play a bigger role, as does their weight.
Luckily enough, mothers–and fathers–can help reduce or even eliminate their child’s risk for type 2 diabetes. Here’s how mothers can prevent childhood diabetes:
Tip #1: Limit your child’s junk food intake. Eating too much junk food can lead to unhealthy weight gain, which can lead to obesity, a common risk factor for childhood type 2 diabetes. The amount of unhealthy carbohydrates and sugar in junk food can also affect your child’s glucose response, further increasing their risk for this disease. So how can mothers limit their child’s junk food intake? Simple–don’t have it in the house. They can’t eat junk food if it physically isn’t there. Also consider making healthier alternatives of their favorite caloric snacks.
Tip #2: Encourage your child to exercise daily, if possible. Exercise is a powerful tool against diabetes–studies have shown regular exercise may reduce a child’s risk for pre-diabetes and diabetes. The American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends exercising for at least 60 minutes most days of the week through heart-pumping physical activity. Mothers should also consider purchasing games that encourage their children to move around, such as Dance Dance Revolution or WiiFit. Encourage them to “game” regularly to lower their risk for type 2 diabetes.
Tip #3: If your child is overweight or obese, focus on healthy lifestyle changes in order to shed those extra pounds. Although some children are just genetically built to carry a few pounds, it’s not healthy for all kids to be heavier-set. But mothers shouldn’t put their children on a diet–that’s not healthy either. Instead, consider healthy lifestyle changes, such as eating more fruits and vegetables, limiting sugary, white-carb foods and getting plenty of exercise. Eating a healthful diet has been shown to prevent type 2 diabetes, especially in children.
Tip 4#: Set a good example. If you eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly and continue to make healthful decisions, your child is more likely to emulate that behavior. Conversely, if you gravitate towards junk food, expect your child to do the same. After all, why should your child eat right when you don’t?
If you’re not eating a healthful diet already, anytime is always a good time to start. Start by incorporating more fruits, vegetables and whole grains into your diet, and then weaning yourself off white carbs and sugary foods. Then demonstrate your good eating habits at the dining table. Your child is more likely to eat healthy if you do as well, which can help prevent childhood type 2 diabetes.
*How Mothers Can Prevent Diabetes should not used as personal medical advice from a licensed medical professional. This guide is not intended to cure or treat any disease. All health concerns should be discussed with your local healthcare professional.
“Preventing Type 2 Diabetes in Children and Teens” (spectrum.diabetesjournals.org)