Diabetes Prevention In Children & Teens

(Courtesy: Children’s Services Council of Broward County)

Written by Kristen Schroeder, BSN-RN, CHES, Clinical Education Coordinator in the Community Outreach Department of Holy Cross Hospital

Currently, the number of children and teens diagnosed with type 2 diabetes is increasing.

The American Diabetes Association (ADA) states:

  • Type 2 diabetes [in children and teens] is on the rise.
  • By the year 2050, one in three people will have diabetes.
  • Children of certain racial and ethnic groups are at higher risk, including African American, Hispanic/Latino, Asian/Pacific Islander and Native American children.

What is Type 2 Diabetes?

Diabetes means you have too much sugar (or glucose) in your blood. Your body changes most of the food you eat into glucose. The glucose then travels in your blood to all of the cells in your body. In turn, your pancreas makes a hormone called insulin to help the sugar move out of your blood and into your cells. Your cells need this sugar to provide you with energy during the day. With Type 2 diabetes, your body cannot use the insulin produced correctly. Without insulin, your cells would not receive the sugar they need to function and the glucose levels in your blood begin to rise.

Signs and Symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes in Children & Teens:

Unfortunately, most of the time children and teens often have no signs or symptoms of diabetes. However, it is still important to know that the common signs and symptoms of type 2 diabetes are:

  • Increased thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Blurry vision
  • Feeling more tired than usual

If you notice any of these signs or symptoms, it is important that the child or teen see their health care provider as soon as possible.

Risk Factors for Diabetes:

Children or teens may be at greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes, if they:

  • Are overweight or obese
  • Are not physically active
  • Have a family member that has type 2 diabetes

For children and teens, the number one risk factor for developing diabetes is being overweight or obese. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), “one in five school-aged children has obesity” and this number is expected to increase over time.

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