Preventing Childhood Obesity And Early Onset Type 2 Diabetes

About 17 percent of children in the United States are obese, and one in three children is either overweight or obese, putting them at higher risk for chronic health conditions, including type 2 diabetes.

Obese children frequently experience low self-esteem, social isolation, and depression, and they are bullied more often than normal weight peers. Being obese during childhood also increases the likelihood of adult obesity, and its associated health issues.

A Growing Problem

A recent report issued by Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA), based on diabetes related claims of more than 40 million members, indicates the incidence of diabetes (mostly type 2) has nearly doubled over the past 30 years.

The rate of diabetes increased the most in people aged 18 to 34, primarily owed to an obesity spike in that age group. The BCBSA report also shows that from 2013 to 2015, young adults had a 4.7 percent increase in diabetes onset.

Since early onset type 2 diabetes is not always, but often associated with high-carb, low fiber diets, and a sedentary lifestyle, many young adults developing diabetes might have left adolescence without acquiring good diet and activity habits.

Daily Obesity Prevention

To help children build healthy lifestyle routines, 5-2-1-0 obesity prevention guidelines were created by the Maine Youth Overweight Collaborative. These guidelines have been adopted by other organizations nationally, and reflect the CDC’s obesity prevention recommendations.

The easy to remember 5-2-1-0 daily guidelines for kids are:

  • 5 or more fruit and vegetable servings
  • 2 hours or less recreational screen time
  • 1 hour or more of physical activity
  • 0 sugar-sweetened drinks (and plenty of water)

It’s further recommended that TVs and computers are kept out of children’s bedrooms, and that kids under age 2 receive no screen time.

Taking Prevention Further

The 5-2-1-0 guidelines were developed as a foundation for change, to help families, schools, child care, and community organizations create environments where children can thrive. To help ensure that children maintain a healthy weight, the CDC also suggests:

  • That parents use the CDC Child and Teen BMI Calculator (link below) to screen their children for possible weight issues.
  • Serving kids fresh fruits and vegetables in place of foods high in added sugars and solid (hydrogenated) fats.
  • Limiting children’s juice intake.
  • That parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles role model healthy diet and activity habits for kids in their family.

The CDC recommends adults advocate for healthy school environments, including time for physical activity, and nutritious lunch foods as well.

Spread Awareness, Make Changes

September, being National Childhood Obesity Awareness month is an excellent time to spread the word about preventing childhood obesity, and if necessary to make small, healthy changes at home. We underestimate our children’s intelligence if we think they cannot learn to appreciate the pleasure and benefits of regular physical activity, and eating fresh, whole foods.

Did you ever stop to taste a carrot? Not just eat it, but taste it? You can’t taste the beauty and energy of the earth in a Twinkie. ~ Terri Guillemets

Source: A Sweet Life; BCBS; CDC; CDC BMI Calculator
Photo credit: guilherme joifili

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