The prevalence of type 2 diabetes is dramatically increasing all over the world. This increase has also affected young adults. Over the last decade, the rise in the number of children and young adults with type 2 diabetes is so alarming that it has turned into an ‘epidemic’. The main reason behind this rise is childhood obesity. Obesity causes insulin resistance that ultimately leads to type 2 diabetes. The most common causes of childhood obesity are a sedentary lifestyle and unhealthy eating habits.
Complications of Type 2 Diabetes
The onset of type 2 diabetes at an early age is associated with longer disease exposure and increased risk of chronic complications at an early stage. Children may have no symptoms of type 2 diabetes, but obesity can trigger it. Obesity leads to insulin resistance. It is reversible if diagnosed and treated at an early stage. Over 50% of diabetes in young adults is reversible if detected early and managed properly with lifestyle modification, including diet counselling and exercise.
Strategies to Avoid This Epidemic
Despite its increasing incidence and prevalence, little is known about the effective strategies and the role of physical activity and nutrition. As diabetes is accompanied with other problems like dyslipidemia and PCOD ( Poly Cystic Ovarian Disease), good nutrition, counselling, and a physical activity plan is an important key to combat all these. Apart from nutrition, exercise, and counselling, there might be a need of pharmacological intervention as well.
To reduce weight, physical activity is very important. Parents and teachers should always stress on the importance of kids staying physically active at home, as well as in school. Diabetes occurs mostly in children or young adults who are inactive or leading a sedentary lifestyle i.e. kids that sit or lie down for a major part of the day, with little to no activity. The rise in use of mobile phones, extended computer use and watching TV in place of outdoor activities has contributed to this epidemic. This is why it is best to have stricter screen time rules in place, in a way that suits you and your family best.
Nutrition counselling, too, needs to be done at home and school. Incorporate good eating habits in children from an early stage. Parents should avoid packaged food or junk food for their children from the beginning, as much as possible, as junk food is loaded with calories and fat that contributes to obesity. Make them eat local, seasonal fruits & vegetables, and more of home-cooked food. Portion control is the key to ensure weight loss in obese children.
We all have an important role to help each other, to put an end to the rise of Diabetes In Children!!
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