People who are overweight—especially if they have excess belly fat—are more likely to have insulin resistance, kids included. Insulin resistance is a major risk factor for type 2 diabetes.
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Polycystic ovary syndrome
Kids who get type 2 diabetes are usually diagnosed in their early teens. One reason is that hormones present during puberty make it harder for the body use insulin, especially for girls, who are more likely than boys to develop type 2 diabetes. That’s an important reason to help your kids take charge of their health while they’re young.
These factors also increase kids’ risk for type 2 diabetes:
- Having a family member with type 2 diabetes.
- Being born to a mom with gestational diabetes (diabetes while pregnant).
- Being African American, Hispanic/Latino, Native American/Alaska Native, Asian American, or Pacific Islander.
- Having one or more conditions related to insulin resistance.
If your child is overweight and has any two of the risk factors listed above, talk to your doctor about getting his or her blood sugar tested. Testing typically begins at 10 years old or when puberty starts, whichever is first, and is repeated every three years.
Want to Limit Overeating? Limit TV Time
A recent study showed that when the amount of TV kids watched was limited, they lost weight—but not because they were more active when they weren’t watching. The difference was snacking: kids ate more when they were watching TV than when doing other activities, even sedentary (not physically active) ones.
Parents can do a lot to help their kids prevent type 2 diabetes. Set a new normal as a family—healthy changes become habits more easily when everyone does them together. Here are some tips to get started:
Drink more water and fewer sugary drinks.
- Eat more fruits and vegetables.
- Make favorite foods healthier.
- Get kids involved in making healthier meals.
- Eat slowly—it takes at least 20 minutes to start feeling full.
- Eat at the dinner table only, not in front of the TV or computer.
- Shop for food together.
- Shop on a full stomach so you’re not tempted to buy unhealthy food.
- Teach your kids to read food labels to understand which foods are healthiest.
- Have meals together as a family as often as you can.
- Don’t insist kids clean their plates.
- Don’t put serving dishes on the table.
- Serve small portions; let kids ask for seconds.
- Reward kids with praise instead of food.
- Aim for your child to get 60 minutes of physical activity a day, in several 10- or 15-minute sessions or all at once.
- Start slow and build up.
- Keep it positive—focus on progress.
- Take parent and kid fitness classes together.
- Make physical activity more fun; try new things.
- Ask kids what activities they like best—everyone is different.
- Encourage kids to join a sports team.
- Have a “fit kit” available—a jump rope, hand weights, resistance bands.
- Limit screen time to 2 hours a day.
- Plan active outings, like hiking or biking.
- Take walks together.
- Move more in and out of the house—vacuuming, raking leaves, gardening.
- Turn chores into games, like racing to see how fast you can clean the house.