The number of kids with diabetes is on the rise. Type 1 Diabetes in inevitable and almost always affects children. Always be on the lookout for it; especially if diabetes runs in the family. Type 2 diabetes was believed to only affect adults. Now, with an increase in obesity amongst kids in India, Type 2 diabetes is just around the corner for them. So, how can we protect kids from diabetes? Let’s find out.
A study conducted in the USA showed that in the year 2014 to 2015, 18,200 children below the age of 18 were diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and 5,800 children below the age of 18 had type 2 diabetes. In India, we don’t have clear studies on kids with diabetes yet, but the number of overweight and obese kids are on the rise. Researchers estimate that by 2030 17.5 % of Indian kids will be overweight/obese.
6 Ways To Protect Kids From Diabetes
It’s hard to protect your kids from Type 1 Diabetes. It’s more likely that kids can inherit Type 1 from their family but it’s not as simple as that. Some kids get it and some don’t. All you can do is keep a watch for the signs of type 1 diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes often occurs because of lifestyle reasons. Certain ethnic groups are also prone to Type 2 Diabetes. Your child is also prone to T2 diabetes if:
- One or both parents have type 2 diabetes
- Their mother had gestational diabetes at the time of their birth
Nevertheless, because of poor lifestyle choices, kids with none of these above situations also get type 2 diabetes as well. Here are some things you can do to protect kids from diabetes.
1. Reduce Sedentary Activities
Sedentary activities or activities that do not require kids to move a whole lot does increase the risk of type 2 diabetes. Researchers are still not entirely sure why a sedentary lifestyle affects diabetes.
One theory is that when you sit for more than 4 hours a day, your body has to work hard to absorb the sugar. This puts a lot of stress on your pancreas and may later lead to type 2 diabetes.
As parents, you must make sure your child spends less time in front of a screen. It’s harder to do in today’s world when kids play, study, read etc in front of a screen. Remind them to stretch after every half hour and make sure they are involved in activities that make them run, play, jog, climb for at least 1 hour every day.
2. Reduce the Consumption of Processed Food
Processed foods and sugary drinks are the leading cause of type two diabetes. This is because these products don’t contain the enzyme stimulating components to improve digestion. This puts the pancreas in an immense amount of stress and slows down digestion.
It’s important to start with healthy eating habits from an early age because that dictates how they will choose to live when they are older.
Limit processed foods to once a week or once in two weeks, and instead, make sure they have leafy green vegetables every day. Fruits and vegetables are an important part of their everyday diet.
2. Include them in the cooking process
If your kids do the hard work of cooking the food along with you, they are far more likely to clean their plate and eat healthily.
Don’t be afraid to let them handle a few things in the kitchen. You can show them how to cut the vegetables, or season the meals. Make leafy greens healthy with them. This will not only reduce the chances of type 2 diabetes but also teach them how to cook and make healthy dietary choices.
Kids are less likely to waste food when they’ve worked hard to cook it.
3. Plan Fun Trips
Kids need exercise but they will only be willing to do it if their parents are on board. Make exercise fun by planning a small holiday getaway.
If you can’t make it out of the city, make sure to take them swimming, or rock climbing or trekking. This will increase your bonding time with your kids and help them stay fit and active.
4. Dinner With The Family
You’d be surprised by the wonders of eating with the television turned off. It takes an average person 20 minutes to feel full. But, if we are eating in front of a television, we don’t pay attention to our bodies.
By eating dinner together on the dinner table, we create a bonding experience with our kids. Not only that, when we are eating with someone, kids are far more likely to know when they are feeling full.
Don’t force them to go for seconds, instead, let them ask for more. When it comes to junk food, it’s important for parents to intervene and tell them when they’ve had enough, but with a healthy dinner, we should not force them to eat more when they feel full.
5. Encourage Them To Eat Fruits and Salads
Fruits and salads add the much-needed vitamins, minerals and roughage in their body. It slows down digestion which means that kids are less likely to feel hungry and eat junk food.
It’s important to eat at least 1 fruit and an assortment of 2-3 vegetables in a small salad bowl every day.
So, with these above tips, you can protect your kid from diabetes. Now remember, in some cases, diabetes is inevitable, in which case you must be able to understand basic symptoms of diabetes.
Common Symptoms Of Diabetes
Both type 1 and type 2 diabetes have similar symptoms. It includes:
- Excessive thirst
- Excessive hunger
- Excessive urination
- Sudden weight loss/gain
- Fruity breath
While some kids show the symptoms of diabetes others don’t. This is especially true for type two diabetes. Kids with type 2 diabetes don’t always show any of the symptoms of diabetes. This makes detection extremely difficult and in severe cases, may lead to organ failure.
If diabetes runs in the family you should consider getting them checked every year.
So, here are some simple tips that can help protect kids from diabetes. Simple daily initiatives work a long way. We wish you all the best in your initiative to keep your child safe from diabetes.