Type 2 Diabetes: what you need to know

Unfortunately, type 2 diabetes is occurring more often in children and teens. About one-third of American youth are overweight which is closely related to the increase in kids with type 2 diabetes. Family history and physical inactivity are also risk factors.

What is type 2 diabetes?
The pancreas makes insulin, a hormone that helps cells turn glucose (a type of sugar) from the food we eat into energy. For some people, their cells do not respond to the insulin, creating insulin resistance. When this happens, the pancreas will make more insulin to try to get cells to respond. Eventually, the pancreas can’t keep up and blood sugar levels rise, setting the stage for type 2 diabetes.

How can you help your child lower their risk of type 2 diabetes?

  • Avoid processed foods and snacks. While it may be convenient to pull into the drive-through of a fast food restaurant, there typically are not many healthy options on the menu. Spend part of your Sunday meal prepping for the upcoming week, including making school lunches and meals.
  • Watch out for portion distortion! Remember that most packaged foods contain more than one serving. Refer to MyPlate and learn how much to eat of each food group.
  • Get 30 minutes of exercise at least five days a week. Take a family walk after dinner or visit a park for a healthy picnic and games on the weekend. Find a charity walk and sign up as a family team.
  • Drink water instead of juices or sodas which can have a lot of sugar. The same goes for sugary coffee drinks which are really shakes in disguise. Let your kids pick out a fun water bottle for school and home, and keep them filled with water.