Diabetes in Children

Type 1 diabetes, considered an autoimmune condition, used to be the leading diabetes found in children, but Type 2 diabetes, once considered an adult disease, is now growing at an alarming rate in children and adolescents. In the United States of America, up to 45 per cent of new cases of diabetes in children are Type 2. The latest statistics from the Ministry of Health (2009) show that 10,000 Jamaican children have diabetes.

Parents are warned to look out for increasing or persistent weight gain, especially in the belly area and dark, rough-looking pigmentation around the neck. The risk factors for children are similar to those for adults and include obesity, abdominal obesity, inactivity. In the same breath, the solutions for children is similar to that for adults as they focus on improving nutrition and physical activity. Here are some helpful tips parents can use:

1.Children should avoid highly dense processed foods which are poor in nutrients such as juice drinks, sodas, high-fat and sugary snacks and other such foods.

2. Parents should prepare more meals at home and encourage family meals to reduce overeating and excess snacking on sparse-nutrient foods among other poor eating habits.

3. Children should be encouraged from early to consume fruits, vegetables, complex carbohydrate, legumes and low fat meats and dairy. They should be encouraged to take part in meal preparation of wholesome foods so they can prepare their own healthy meals when necessary.

4. Children should be encouraged to take part in high-activity play at school and home on a daily basis. Children should have two hours of cumulative play on a daily basis for their health and well being.

Children should be encouraged to walk, as this not only helps to reduce excess body fat but also improves their bone density.


N.B. Parents who already have overweight children need to immediately seek help from a pediatrician and a registered dietitian.

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