Parents obesity health journal club: today’s topic; Type 2 diabetes and childhood obesity.
Childhood diabetes is on the rise especially Type 2 diabetes. This is the type your child can get from being overweight and obese.
Insulin is key factor in the diabetes discussion. It is the body’s regulator of sugar in the blood. When the insulin in your body stops controlling the sugar level in your blood and the sugar stays high for extended periods of time then the result is diabetes. High blood sugar level over time has many negative effects on your body. There are two major types of Diabetes.
Type 1 or insulin dependent diabetes, where the body does not make enough insulin and the sugar level in your blood rises and cannot be controlled without giving the individual insulin from an outside source.
Type 2 diabetes or insulin resistant diabetes. In this type there is usually enough insulin in the body to start, it is just that the insulin your body makes does not work as well as it should . Your body becomes resistant to the effects of insulin that you make. In spite of you making more insulin in response to rising sugar, your body becomes less sensitive to the insulin effects and sugar continues to rise.
What is the difference between how you get each type of diabetes?
You are born with the tendency to develop type 1. There is very little you can do to prevent your child from becoming diabetic in this case.
Type 2 is strongly related to being overweight and obese, particularly in children who have a close relative in their family with type 2 diabetes.
What does being overweight and obese have to do with it? What’s fat got to do with it?
Childhood diabetes has increased 3 fold in the last 30 years. The significant rise in type 2 diabetes since the 1990’s is considered directly related to the dramatic increase in childhood obesity. Although the mechanism connecting obesity and the resistance to insulin is not completely understood there is research to show how the two are related. One conclusion from scientific studies has indicated that in obese children there are high levels of fatty acids circulating in blood and muscles .This elevated fatty acid interferes with the work of insulin in the body and the muscles and organs become insulin resistant. Other new studies have shown that obesity itself causes an inflammatory condition which also interferes with insulin action. In addition both these scenarios can negatively affect the cells where the insulin is produced.
(The signs and symptoms of diabetes type 2 have some of the same symptoms of diabetes type 1 but generally speaking many of the signs are not as obvious and take longer to become apparent. That is the reason why we need to be more alert for children who are at risk for type 2 diabetes or insulin resistance.)
If your child has any of the following they might be at risk for Type 2 diabetes and you need to contact your physician.
If your child’s BMI is over 85% (see BMI article), then there is cause for concern and requires close observation for type 2 diabetes. Being overweight itself is a high risk factor for type 2 diabetes .
Family history of type 2 diabetes in immediate or second degree relatives.
Children with increased cholesterol, and increased blood pressure.
Children with increased urinary frequency, weight loss, and candida infection.
Skin changes most notably- Acanthosis nigracans (darkening of the folds of the skin around the neck and arm pits)
Any of the previous signs and symptoms and being in one of the following minority groups places your child at a greater than average risk of developing type 2 diabetes. African Americans, Asian Americans. American Indians, Hispanic/Latino.
How can you lower your child’s risk of type 2 diabetes?
Make an appointment with your child’s doctor sooner than later.
1. Make sure your child is active. The most important thing you can do today is get your child up and moving. Make sure they are active and not sedentary. Exercise in any form for at least 30 minutes a day.
2. Nutritional changes:
a. Lower calories to lower weight. Decrease the fat content of foods, cut out junk foods, and foods with high sugar content,
b. Increase high fiber low glycemic foods to help maintain a stable sugar level.
c. Incorporate healthy foods into your child’s diet which have some anti-inflammatory properties . Include fruits and vegetables with a lot of color especially green, yellow, red, and purple. Try to increase the amount of fish, nuts, and berries, and de-caffeinated green tea.
For additional articles related to obesity and nutrition