One-third of children and teens in the U.S. are considered overweight or obese, putting them at greater risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.
A recent study found that nearly half of newly-diagnosed teens failed to control their blood sugar, and one in five had serious complications. Keep reading for more information about what the leaders of this study learned — and how we can help.
What is Type 2 diabetes?
Type 2 diabetes is a serious disease, and even if your child is feeling fine in the early stages of diagnosis, management of the disease must be taken seriously. If not properly controlled, the condition can adversely affect the kidneys, eyes, heart and nerves. While long-term complications develop gradually, once they develop they can be quite disabling or potentially life-threatening. Teaching teens to properly control their blood sugar levels greatly increases their chances of avoiding serious complications.
According to information provided by the Mayo Clinic, Type 2 diabetes develops when the body becomes resistant to insulin or when the pancreas stops producing enough insulin. Factors such as excess weight, inactivity and heredity play an important role in determining who is affected by Type 2 diabetes and who isn’t. Type 2 diabetes is not the same disease as Type 1/juvenile diabetes, even when it occurs in children.
Diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes in children is on the rise, causing concern amongst physicians. Managing this condition requires a high level of parental involvement and dedication on the part of the diabetic teen. The rise in teen obesity in recent years has certainly contributed to the increase in childhood cases of Type 2 diabetes — rarely seen in children or teens in the past. Between 1999 and 2008, the percentage of teens diagnosed with either pre-diabetes or Type 2 diabetes increased from 9 percent to a whopping 23 percent.
Dr. Isaacs says the problem with most teenagers is that they don’t want to listen to what their parents say — an overweight teen diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes is not any different. “They’re going to eat what they want, and the major source of calories in teenagers is going to be sweetened beverages, sodas, snack foods — all the things that are the worst thing for diabetes,” he says.
Help your teen learn to control his blood sugar by involving the whole family. His life depends on it.