Living with diabetes blog

Use these tips to help children prevent diabetes

By Peggy Moreland, R.N., C.D.E. September 11, 2015

The number of teens living with type 2 diabetes has increased in recent years, according to the American Diabetes Association. Type 2 diabetes used to be unheard of for this age group; hence, it used to be called adult-onset diabetes.

Until recent years, most children with diabetes had type 1 diabetes (formerly known as juvenile diabetes where the pancreas cannot produce insulin). But type 2 diabetes in children and adolescents has skyrocketed in the last 20 years.

It's estimated that type 2 diabetes in youth has grown from less than 5 percent in 1994 to about 20 percent of all newly diagnosed cases.

"Childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years," the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says, and in 2013 more than one third of children and adolescents were overweight or obese.

Overweight and obese youth are more likely to have prediabetes which means they are more likely to develop diabetes.

Here are some practical steps to reduce your child's chances of getting diabetes:

  • Provide a healthy breakfast so that they aren't tempted to by snacks before lunch.
  • Cut back on sugar by reducing or eliminating sugar-sweetened drinks and limiting juice.
  • Offer more vegetables, fruit and whole grains for snacks.
  • Limit treats. Save them for dessert.
  • Sit down as a family for dinner, not in front of the TV.
  • Limit use of electronics — TVs, computers, tablets, phones etc.
  • Spend more time as a family engaged in physical activities. Go for walks, play ball, go to the park. Children need at least 60 minutes of activity a day. It's also beneficial for adults.
  • See a dietitian for tips on a healthier diet. Some grocery chains have a dietitian who can help at no charge.
  • Help your schools set nutritional standards for meals that are stricter than those required by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Please share other ideas. Have a great week!

Sept. 11, 2015