Type 2 Diabetes: A Childhood Disease

Girl who is overweightWhen we consider childhood diabetes, the first thing many of us think of is type 1 diabetes.  After all, it is also known as “juvenile diabetes” and is the most prevalent form of diabetes in children aged 16 years old and younger.

Unfortunately, this may not always be the case.

Type 2 diabetes is still sometimes known as “adult-onset diabetes”, as it was once almost exclusively the domain of adults and even then, usually older adults.  Now the rates among children are steadily increasing, almost entirely due to the obesity epidemic.  Prior to 1994, only 2% to 4% of children diagnosed with diabetes had type 2 diabetes.  By 1999, anywhere from 8% to 45% of newly diagnosed children had type 2 diabetes.  These numbers vary depending upon the location of the medical center.  Additional studies have found that between 2001 and 2009, the rate of type 2 diabetes in children increased by 21%. That same study also found that those children with type 2 diabetes were more likely than those with type 1 diabetes to have protein in their urine, indicating an increased risk of developing kidney disease.  The same researchers behind these studies found the disease progressed more rapidly in children than in adults.  At the start of the study, approximately 12% of children with type 2 diabetes had high blood pressure.  By the time of the follow-up, usually four years later, one-third of the children had developed high blood pressure.  Hospital stays for children with type 2 diabetes also increased by 200%, indicating a grim outlook for those youngsters who have this condition.

Type 2 diabetes, especially when it is found in children, can be prevented.  Children and adolescents diagnosed with type 2 diabetes are usually obese and between the ages of ten and nineteen. There is some evidence that nonwhite children are more likely to develop the disease, though it is found across all ethnic and socioeconomic factors.  Inactivity and poor dietary habits – the same things that cause obesity – will also generally be the same habits that trigger type 2 diabetes.  What is especially tragic is that in children, these poor behaviors are usually learned from a parent.  A British study of 226 families found that obese mothers are ten times more likely to have obese daughters, while obese fathers are six times more likely to have obese sons.  It also found that eight-year-old girls of obese mothers were overweight 41% of the time, compared to just 4% of girls with mothers of a normal weight.

The researchers concluded that the link is behavioral rather than genetic.  Suzanne Rostler, a nutritionist at Children’s Hospital in Boston, concluded that efforts to curb childhood obesity should focus on the parents:

“DNA is not destiny and there is a lot a parent can do in terms of role modeling.  Parents should be the primary target since they make the majority of decisions about which foods to bring into the home and how those foods are prepared.”

There has been no significant changes to the gene pool over the past two-to-three decades yet the occurrence of type 2 diabetes has skyrocketed, including in children.  This also indicates a change in socialized behavior rather than genetics.  The good news is that this indicates we can also reverse this trend.  While we have less control over our genetics, poor learned behaviors can be unlearned, assuming parents take the time and effort to be positive role models.   Even those parents who are overweight and already have type 2 diabetes,  prediabetes, or are otherwise in danger of developing insulin resistance, can set a positive example by limiting snacks, cooking healthier foods and taking the time to enjoy playing sports with their kids.  Every hour that is spent riding a bike or going for a walk instead of watching TV is an hour that a bad habit is replaced with a good one.  Every pound that is shed phenomenally reduces the risk of developing prediabetes or type 2 diabetes.  Parents can be positive role models.  The alternative is to rob their children of their future.

To learn more about type 2 diabetes and the Amino Diet Diabetic Program call 1-800-980-7208 and speak with a certified health coach. Our low glycemic meal plan is backed by thousands of research articles and is proven to help control type 2 diabetes. You can also visit us on Facebook at, www.facebook.com/aminodiet.

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Authored by: Dr. Humble Finsand

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