Weight and Diabetes in Kids

Preventing Type 2 Diabetes

Because overweight and obese children are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes, the main strategy for preventing this disease involves a healthy diet and exercise routine. As a parent, you can lead by example with your own healthy lifestyle. Exercising regularly and choosing nutritious foods over foods high in sugar or fat are great ways to influence your child to adopt a healthy lifestyle. A well-balanced meal plan can guide you and your child in choosing nutritious foods to incorporate in your diet.

Exercise is important in preventing diabetes because it improves the body's response to insulin, which helps control blood sugar levels. Any activity that gets children moving is beneficial; encourage outside play with friends, school sports, or extracurricular activities. If your child is overweight, exercising will decrease body fat and get heart and blood vessels in shape, which also helps prevent cardiovascular disease. Encourage and implement a healthy lifestyle in your child's routine as well as your own, and you can work your way towards better health together.

Controlling Diabetes

Here are some strategies you, as a parent, can use to manage your child's diabetes symptoms:

  • Provide a healthy diet - Parents largely control what foods their children eat. Work with your child's health care team to create a well-balanced and portioned meal plan. This will guide you in selecting nutritious foods based on your child's age, activity level, schedule, and food likes and dislikes.
  • Discourage extreme dieting - Extreme dieting can be dangerous even for healthy individuals, but is especially dangerous for those with diabetes, since it can create a rise or drop in blood sugar - as well as vitamin deficiencies.
  • Limit intake of sugary foods and beverages - Parents need to limit the intake of sugar in their child's diet. Here are some common problems to look for when controlling your child's sugar consumption:
    • Oversnacking
    • Sneaking snacks
    • Skipping insulin
  • Implement exercise routines - Exercise can improve the body's response to insulin, which helps to control blood sugar levels, burns calories, decreases excess body fat, keeps blood pressure under control, gets heart, lungs, and blood vessels in good shape, and even improves self-esteem. To avoid problems during exercise, children with type 2 diabetes may need to:
    • Have an extra snack prior to physical activities
    • Carry snacks, water, and medication with them when they exercise
    • Check their blood sugar levels before, during, and after exercise
    • Wear a medical identification bracelet
    • Make sure coaches know about their diabetes
  • Give medication as prescribed - Sometimes a healthy diet and increased exercise aren't enough to help children with type 2 diabetes, and they need to take insulin. The types of insulin and the daily injection doses need to be adjusted to handle the rise in blood sugar that occurs with meals.
  • Check blood sugar levels regularly - Make sure that your child checks her blood sugar levels regularly, as well as before and after meals and exercise, and that she adjusts insulin doses as necessary.
  • Schedule regular checkups - Work closely with your child's doctor and health care team to achieve the best possible control over her diabetes.

Weight loss, healthy eating, and proper exercise can reduce the risk of developing diabetes and can actually reverse insulin resistance in those who already have type 2 diabetes.


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