Kids Diabetes and The Rise of Childhood Obesity - how are they linked?

It used to be kids diabetes was Type I and required daily insulin shots. This is because their bodies can't make insulin. While this type of diabetes is still around there is an increase of Type II. Type II used to be associated to older, overweight adults.

There is now an increase of Type II with the ever increasing numbers of overweight kids. Type II diabetes is when the insulin receptors on the cells become oxidized which is referred to as glycolysis. It would be wise to consult with your pediatrician about a more healthy diet and exercise program for your child.

Aside from kids with unhealthy weights, certain ethnic backgrounds have a tendency to contract kids diabetes. The more common ethnic groups are American Indian, African-American, Hispanic American, and Asians/South Pacific Islander children. If someone in the family has or had a prior instance of Type II diabetes there is a 74-100% chance that your child could develop this type of diabetes.

So What Are The Symptoms?

Type I -

  • Increased Urination
  • Increased Drinking
  • Weight Loss

Type II (are more subtle) -

  • Usually Overweight
  • Mild or no increased urination
  • Mild or no increased drinking
  • Possible black velvety discoloration to the child's neck and skin folds

Should I Test My Kid for Diabetes?

The American Diabetic Association considers kids to be at risk if they are overweight and any two of the following risk factors:

  • A family history of type II diabetes in firs- and second-degree relatives
  • Have signs of insulin resistance or conditions associated with insulin resistance
  • Part of an ethnic group - American Indians, African-Americans, Hispanic Americans, Asians/South Pacific Islander

Also, have your child's cholesterol checked especially if they are overweight.

Something Extra to Watch for with Your Teen Daughter

Eating disorders affect 10% of American teens and young adults. The disorders range from full-blown anorexia and/or bulimia to patterns disordered eating such as bingeing, excessive exercise, or other methods of controlling calorie intake.

Teens with Type I diabetes can exhibit another type of eating disorder unique to girls with kids diabetes. They deliberately will change the dosage of insulin to achieve weight control or loss. It is because that usually when diagnosed or before metabolic control is achieved they will have experienced some type of weight loss. Teen girls think this is a good thing especially those living under constant peer pressure to be thin. When they begin their insulin therapy they'll most likely gain some weight. Shorting their insulin injections or skipping them becomes the easy fix. This brings on hyperglycemia which will cause extra urination and weight loss.

While these teen girls might see this as success it has many dangerous consequences to their health:

  • Higher A1c levels due to poor metabolic control
  • Early onset of diabetes complications, retinopathy. 86% of girls with diabetes and associated eating disorders showed some detectable damage.
  • Hypoglycemia due to not eating or not eating enough
  • Diabetic Ketoacidosis (basically too much acid in the blood) brought about from shorting their insulin injection or not taking a dose at all

Can You Prevent Diabetes in Children

As much as we want, we as parents can not protect our kids from all that is bad in life, especially illnesses and diseases. However there are some things we can do to decrease the risk our children have to develop illness and diseases. The question now is can a parent do anything to prevent diabetes in their children.

The short answer to the question is both yes and no. As you might know by now is that diabetes is the way the body removes and make use of the glucose in the blood to manufacture energy. With diabetes the body does not make insulin or the insulin the body does make does not function properly. 

Type 1 Diabetes: No
When your child has Type 1 Diabetes the pancreas is attacked by the immune system and destroys the cells that are responsible for the manufacturing of insulin. In this regard there is absolutely nothing you can do to prevent your child having diabetes. 

Type 2 Diabetes: Yes it Might Be Possible
With Type 2 diabetes the pancreas is possible to manufacture insulin but the way the body act in response cause the body to use the insulin properly. 

The main factors that play a significant role in the appearance of Type 2 diabetes in children particularly are obesity and an inactive type of lifestyle. These factors increase the risk for Type 2 diabetes considerably.

In the past Type 2 diabetes was regarded as an illness that only affected adults, but as children became more overweight and less active during the past decade it started to affect more and more kids and are no longer known as an adult illness. 

However, it is important to note that even though you can make sure your child is healthy, living an active lifestyle, and make sure he or she manages his or her weight properly and do not get overweight, there are some other factors that can increase their risk of getting Type 2 diabetes. When there is Type 2 diabetes in the family it is likely that your child can inherit the genes that cause the illness from that family member. Especially if one or both parents have diabetes your child has a high risk of having or developing diabetes.

10 Myths about Kids Diabetes All Parents Must Know

Parents who are properly educated about kids diabetes are better equipped to help their child manage his or her condition. There is a huge amount of information on diabetes available, but if it is interpreted wrong or inaccurate, you can do a lot of harm rather than the intended good. 

Following are some of the most common myths about kids diabetes. 

Myth 1

If Your Child Eats Too Much Sugar He Or She Will Get Kids DiabetesThe true facts are that Type 1 diabetes is because the cells that produce insulin in the pancreas are destroyed. Type 2 diabetes is because the body is not able to respond correctly to the insulin the body produce. Clearly none of the two types has anything to do with the amount of sugar a child consume.

Myth 2

Children With Kids Diabetes Must By No Means Eat Sweets
Sugary treats and sweets can form part of a child with diabetes’ balanced diet. It is important though to control the amount of carbohydrates that your child eats. Carbohydrates are part of various kinds of foods of which sugary treats and sweets forms only a small part. Therefore kids with diabetes can eat sugary treats, but need to limit their intake. 

Myth 3

Kids Diabetes is Transmittable
Diabetes is not at all contagious and there is no way you can contract diabetes from another person. Children with Type 1 diabetes usually inherited it from relatives. 

Myth 4

Kids will Outgrow Kids Diabetes
It is not possible for kids to outgrow diabetes. If you look at the causes of the two kinds of kids diabetes it is clear why it is not possible. Kids with Type 1 diabetes do not have the cells in the pancreas that produce the insulin because it is destroyed. With no cells to produce insulin, the child will be insulin dependent for the rest of his life. With Type 2 diabetes the story is a little different. Some lifestyle changes may cause kids with Type 2 diabetes to experience an improvement of their condition during puberty. Yet they will always have a propensity towards high blood sugar levels and even more so if they are over weight or following a sedentary type of lifestyle. 

Myth 5

For Some People High Blood Sugar Levels are Normal
Certain situations or circumstances such as stress or ailments or certain medications can increase blood sugar levels temporary even if they do not have kids diabetes. People who have higher than normal blood sugar levels should make effort to visit their doctor at the soonest.

Myth 6

A Diabetic Person Can Feel When Their Blood Sugar Levels Are Low Or High
Certain physical symptoms can serve as an indication of high or low blood sugar levels but the only certain and correct way to know is to do a proper blood sugar level test. For a person to feel that their blood sugar level is high or experience the significant symptoms the levels of their blood sugar must be already dangerously high. 

Myth 7

All Diabetics Must take Insulin 
People with Type 1 diabetes are dependent on insulin because their pancreas does not make any. People with Type 2 diabetes can take either insulin or tablets, or a combination of the two. Their pancreas does make insulin but their bodies do not react correctly. Therefore they can use medication to control their blood sugar levels.

Myth 8

Insulin Heals Kids Diabetes
Insulin can not heal kids diabetes because it can not heal the destroyed cells in the pancreas that is needed to make insulin. It can also not alter the way the body reacts to insulin that the pancreas does make in Type 2 diabetes. Therefore insulin serves only as a replacement for the insulin the body does not make on its own in order for the body to be able to remove the glucose from the blood and convert it into energy. Insulin therefore only control blood sugar levels but has no healing qualities.

Myth 9

When Kids are Sick the Must Not Take their Insulin or Diabetics Medicine
Regardless of how healthy or sick kids are, they still need to take their insulin or diabetics medicine. It is possible that the insulin or diabetic medicine needs to be adjusted during their illness but it should only be done with permission of your doctor. In no way diabetic prescriptions should be skipped at all. When your child with kids diabetes is sick, it needs more energy to heal or get well again. This is exactly the function of insulin and other diabetic medicines to help the body get the energy from the blood. 

Myth 10

Children with Kids Diabetes Must Not Exercise
No matter what the condition, exercise is always important for all children even if they do have diabetes or not. In fact children with diabetes who exercise enjoy many benefits if they exercise. Their weight is managed better and the do not have the risk of gaining extra body fat. It enhances their moods, reduce stress, improve the health of their heart, and help them to control blood sugar levels better. 

The Importance and Benefits of Exercise For Children with Kids Diabetes

We all know that exercise is always good for kids and involves a number of benefits especially for those with kids diabetes too.

Exercise helps to:Increase the health of the heart and decrease the risk for heart diseases, some cancers, and strengthen muscles and bones.Enhance physical capabilities such as balance, strength, coordination, endurance, and boost energy levels.Control blood sugar levels better because exercise enhances the effectiveness of insulin.Maintain healthy body weight. Overweight people with diabetes makes it difficult for the insulin to work properly and are therefore having problems to control their blood sugar levels effectively.Get rid of stress and tension that can cause blood sugar levels to increase to unhealthy levels.Before your child with diabetes starts with exercise or sports it is important to talk to your doctor. Depending on the type of activity level of the sport or exercise, your doctor will inform you on how your child must adapt his or her medication, testing schedule, dietary needs, and other things that will have an influence on their diabetes. 

Most importantly your positive attitude, support, and encouragement are of exceptional value. Do not prevent your child to take part in activities because you are scared he or she might not cope with the changes. This will only make them feel different or sick and like an outcast. 

In order to play it safe, kids with diabetes should test their blood sugar levels before they exercise and eat a snack to keep their blood sugar levels stable. In the events where demanding training for a specific type of sport is started find out from your doctor if it is necessary to adjust the insulin dosages to reduce the risk of hypoglycemia. 

Make sure your child knows how to recognize hyperglycemia or hypoglycemia and know when it is time to stop and what steps he needs to follow. Informing the coach and some team mates too can do only good.

The following exercise tips can help your child to be ready for exercises or taking part in sport.Ask your doctor if the blood testing schedules for your child needs to be adjusted regarding frequency or the time the blood sugar tests are done.Make sure your child takes his or her insulin right on schedule and do not inject the insulin in a part of the body that is likely to be used a lot during the exercise or sport. For instance do not allow a shot in the upper leg if the child is going to play soccer.Make sure your child consume extra snacks of food to compensate for the extra energy he or she will need during sports or exercises.Have snacks and water ready at all times during practices, matches, or exercises.

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