A new study published in Pediatrics reported an alarming 23% of teens are pre-diabetic or diabetic, an increase of 14% over nine years. This dramatic increase cannot be attributed to genetics. Today, 34% of children ages 12-19 are overweight or obese contributing to increased risk of type 2 diabetes. This also puts them at higher risk for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, breathing problems, gallstones, and joint problems – chronic diseases commonly found in adults. A future of damaged blood vessels, kidney disease, coronary artery disease, eye diseases, increased risk of stroke, and a lifetime of medications is not what we want for our children.
We need to be aggressive in attacking type 2 diabetes in teens. Start by shedding the excess pounds by reducing fat in the diet by eliminating fried foods and dairy products. Read nutrition labels on the side of packaged foods for total calories, sugar, and saturated fat content. Slowly reduce eating packaged foods and increase eating whole foods. Drink water instead of sugary beverages such as soda and fruit/sports drinks. Enjoy outdoor family activities. Encourage playing outside, biking, walking, or enroll children in sport activities to increase physical activity.