Obesity in America is becoming an epidemic and not only for adults. Childhood and adolescent obesity is quickly becoming a more and more common issue. Obesity doesn't just mean that your child is overweight but that they are at a greater risk for develop 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; but if diagnosed with these disorders you shouldwith a Pediatric Gastroenterologist to have your child evaluated for fatty liver disease.
As with most chronic illnesses it is preferable to prevent rather than to treat. The good news about childhood type 2 diabetes is that it is preventable. Healthier eating and exercise can significantly decrease your child’s risk for developing type 2 diabetes. Children are notorious for modeling the behaviors of their parents so make it a point to show good eating and exercise habits. Your child should get somewhere between 30-60 minutes of exercise daily. That means turn off the TV, game station, tablets and phones and get outside and play. Try limiting fast foods, high calorie snacks and sugary drinks. Encourage healthy snacks such as fruits and vegetables and water to drink. These types of lifestyle changes will make for a healthier family not just a healthier child.
If your child has already been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, a healthier lifestyle could help to control symptoms but it is important that you follow your doctor’s advice. There are medications that may be prescribed to help control blood sugar levels in your child or you may 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.
Symptoms of high blood sugars in children 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 it is important that you talk with the pediatrician as soon as possible and 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.
We want to give our children the best start for life which now more than ever should include a healthier lifestyle. If you knew that you could help prevent your child from developing a lifelong condition, wouldn't you make the necessary changes? Well, now you know, so make the change!