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Diabetes & Kids

November 2, 2016 | Blog

According to WebMD, the obesity epidemic is widely blamed for an alarming rise in the incidence of type 2 diabetes among children. Intriguing new research suggests it is also to blame for a similar increase in type 1 diabetes.

Though being overweight is the main risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes, it has not previously been thought to be a major factor in type 1 diabetes, once known as “juvenile-onset diabetes.” Type 1 diabetes is considered to be a genetically driven autoimmune disorder in which the body destroys the insulin-producing cells that allow it to process glucose. In type 2 diabetes, the body produces insulin but is unable to use it properly, a condition known as insulin resistance.

For many years type 2 diabetes was something that overweight adults had to contend with, mainly because children weren’t having the weight issues they have today. The rise in type 2 diabetes can often be attributed to sedentary lifestyle related to watching TV, playing video games and sitting at computers for hours at a time.  Poor eating habits and nutrition is another contributing factor.

Children with type 2 diabetes have been found to have more life-threatening complications than type 1 diabetics. Some of the biggest problems juveniles with this kind of diabetes face include heart disease, damage to the nervous system, renal failure, blindness, and limb amputations, particularly of the feet and lower legs.

For the juvenile diabetic, a healthy diet is the cornerstone of treatment. A well-balanced diet low in sugar, saturated fats, and salt is critical. Foods high in fiber such as fruits and vegetables, along with complex carbohydrates are best for the person with diabetes. Even then foods high in carbs should be eaten throughout the day to help prevent significant rises in blood glucose levels. Regular physical activity or exercise is also recommended to help insulin move glucose out of the blood and into the cells.

The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) advises that diabetes in children may occur suddenly and can include any of the following symptoms:

  • Extreme thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Drowsiness or lethargy
  • Increased appetite
  • Sudden weight loss
  • Sudden changes in vision
  • Sugar in the urine
  • Fruity odor on the breath
  • Heavy or labored breathing
  • Stupor or unconsciousness

Children or adults experiencing any of these symptoms should seek medical help.

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