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Preventing Type 2 In Your Kids


Oct 1, 2005

Lifestyle changes are the key

One of the most alarming studies to be published in recent years was the prediction that one in three children born after the year 2000 will develop type 2 diabetes during his or her lifetime.

Given this forthcoming epidemic, it is important to ask, can type 2 diabetes be prevented?

The answer, clearly, is yes.

Nearly One in Three Kids Are Overweight

In a recent study, 30 percent of U.S. adolescents aged 12 to 19 were found to be overweight. Some of the associations noted in this study were:

  • Ethnicity (there was more obesity in Mexican American boys and African American girls).
  • Children who get the least physical activity are more likely to become overweight or obese.
  • The more hours of television a child watches, the greater the chances that he or she will become obese.

Lifestyle Changes Are the Key

Let’s assume that your child is overweight and you have a positive family history of type 2 diabetes. What can you do to keep your high-risk child free of type 2 diabetes?

There are numerous lifestyle changes that you can help your child make that will make a difference. The NIH-sponsored type 2 diabetes prevention trial demonstrated a 58 percent reduction in the incidence of type 2 diabetes in a high-risk group using lifestyle changes that led to increased activity and weight loss.

See below for my 10 suggested lifestyle changes for children and adolescents.


10 Ways to Keep Kids Type 2-Free

Dr. Tanenberg’s suggested lifestyle changes for children and adolescents

  1. Have children screened regularly for prediabetes.
  2. Have their height and weight recorded, their waist circumference measured and their body mass index (BMI) calculated every year to see how they compare with their peers. (For a free childhood growth chart and BMI calculator, see http://pediatrics.about.com/cs/usefultools).
  3. Serve fresh fruits and vegetables at every meal.
  4. Serve food on individual plates rather than “family style” for better portion control.
  5. Have a “no TV during mealtime” policy—and stick to it.
  6. No snacks after 9 p.m. on school nights and 11 p.m. on weekends.
  7. Find an organized sport or other physical activity they enjoy doing for at least 30 minutes per day.
  8. Buy a pedometer for the child to wear and reward him or her for walking every 5 or 10 miles.
  9. Limit television to one hour per day on school days and two hours on weekends.
  10. If your child is overweight, set realistic weekly targets for weight loss. Offer non-food rewards when targets are met and when the child keeps the weight off for an entire month.

What about medications to prevent type 2 diabetes?

The NIH-sponsored type 2 diabetes prevention trial also demonstrated that metformin successfully prevented diabetes in 31 percent of the patients.

Unpublished data indicate that the glitazone drug used in that study (similar to Actos or Avandia) was successful in 70 percent of the cases.

All these drugs are considered “off label” when prescribed for a nondiabetic individual. It would be much easier to justify one of these medications if your child meets the diagnostic criteria for the metabolic syndrome, prediabetes or polycystic ovarian disorder. If so, you need to ask your physician if he or she is willing to prescribe them to prevent diabetes in your child.

Your doctor may agree to try medication in addition to the recommended lifestyle changes.


Categories: Diabetes, Diabetes, Food, Kids & Teens, Type 2 Issues, Type 2 Medications



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Oct 1, 2005

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