Your child is going to ask for a lot of gifts this Christmas, and you are going to be more than happy to put on your ‘Santa Claus’ and make his or her dreams come true. However, for some in America, the most important gift you could give your child this holiday season is a commitment to great health in 2021.
Is My Child's Obesity a Problem?
Obesity in America is becoming an epidemic for children as well as adults. Childhood and adolescent obesity is quickly becoming a more common issue. Statistics show that over 18% of children and adolescents between the ages of 2-18 are obese. That is one in every 5 children! Obesity doesn't just mean that your child is overweight. It indicates that they are at a greater risk for developing chronic, lifelong conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and fatty liver disease. Being aware of your child’s blood pressure and blood sugar is a good first step. Unfortunately, we have talked to some parents who have ignored this because it is something that they are dealing with themselves (obesity, weight issues) and don’t want to acknowledge with their children. They feel like acknowledging this issue with their children is somehow an acknowledgement of their own condition. Please - PLEASE - don’t let this be a factor. Your health is your choice (even if it needs adjustment), but your child’s health is theirs, even though they don’t have that ability to choose the right pathway yet. They need your guidance, even if it comes as a “do as I say not as I do” approach. This is not the most desirable outcome, but it is something that can impact their health for the rest of their lives and can keep them from developing diabetes.
How Do I Help My Obese Child?
With chronic illnesses, it is preferable to prevent rather than to treat. There is great news when it comes to childhood obesity - Type 2 diabetes is preventable! There are several things you can do to help your child steer away from obesity and towards good and better health. One of those things involves healthier eating. If a child is left to his or her own desires, snack food and processed foods are the most likely options. Unfortunately, these options often lead to ‘difficult to process’ calories that end up sticking to the gut and causing long-term problems. Healthy eating can improve your child’s health and long-term projections. Prioritizing fresh fruits and vegetables is monumental in place of processed foods. Preparing meals that are balanced in nutrition is a key as well. They may not like it at first, but they will adapt as they are ‘encouraged’ to eat what is on their plate.
In addition to diet, exercise can significantly decrease your child’s risk for developing Type 2 diabetes. Your child should get somewhere between 30-60 minutes of exercise daily. Children are notorious for modeling the behaviors of their parents, so make it a point to show good exercise habits. Make a commitment to them to get out and be active with them! Trust us - they will love it! You can take them for a walk, a bike ride, throw a ball around, play four-square, or even shoot baskets. We know that means turning off the TV, phones, and other electronics. However, every minute they are active in exercising is a minute they are engaging and investing in their long-term health. These types of lifestyle changes will make for a healthier family, not just a healthier child.
How Do I Help My Child with Type-2 Diabetes?
Has your child already been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes? If so, a healthier lifestyle could help to control symptoms. However, it is always important to follow your doctor’s advice. There are medications that may be prescribed to help control blood sugar levels in your child. You may also need to check your child’s blood sugars at home and give insulin. Your pediatrician may even feel like your child should be seen by a specialist to help better manage your child’s condition. Again, weight loss and a healthy lifestyle with better eating and exercise habits may be helpful, but it is not a substitute for treatment by a doctor.
There are symptoms of high blood sugars in children. These can include bed wetting, having to urinate a lot, being very thirsty, fatigue and unexplained weight loss. If you are concerned that your child may be a diabetic or they are experiencing these symptoms and conditions, it is important that you talk with your pediatrician as soon as possible. Your child should be evaluated with a blood test to check the blood sugar level. Long term high blood sugar levels can lead to kidney, nerve and eye damage. Talk to your doctor at the first sign of concern. If you aren't sure what to do, contact us and we will direct you and help you out!
Your child deserves the best start to his or her life possible. You as the parent are the key to that! If you have questions about how to raise them and make sure they are set up for their best life possible, please set up a consult and meeting with us. We will be glad to help you with the tools to parent and help them with the encouragement to pursue a healthy lifestyle that gives them the best opportunity possible to live a long and productive life.