According to the nation's top diabetes specialists, there has been a tremendous rise in the number of children under the age of 18 being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes was rarely seen in anyone under the age of 40. However, over the past few years, the statistics have changed for the worse.
The concern within the medical community is that the continued rise in childhood obesity, coupled with the progressive decrease in the number of active children, are the main culprits responsible for pediatric Type 2 diabetes. Add to this, the progressive decline in the number of active children and if we don't take action now, we're headed for a major disaster.
Did you realize that almost 1 out of every 3 children in the United States today is overweight? (Many predict the incidence is closer to 2 out of every 5!) According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the number of overweight children has increased by more than 50% within the past twenty years.
They have also discovered that up to 65% of these school aged children have at least one major risk factor for heart disease (such as high blood pressure, glucose intolerance and high cholesterol levels). With this in mind, you can see that the time is now for us, as parents, to take preventive measures. Our children's health is at stake.
** The number of overweight children in the U.S. is increasing at an alarming rate.**
Possible causes for this increase
It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see how technology, coupled with "life on the run" has affected our society.
Sure, it's wonderful to be able to search the internet, communicate with other continents and fly to the moon but think back to your own childhood. What did you do after school? I bet you didn't sit in front of a VCR or play video games. Yet, that's exactly what we are allowing our children to do.
Whatever happened to playing outside? For all intensive purposes, I believe it may be extinct.
Add to this the growing number of fast food establishments and the amount of meals eaten outside of the home. It seems like there is a fast food place on every street corner, which tells me that fast food must be good business. I bet it is but think about it - is it really good for our children's health?
How many times did you eat outside of the home when you were growing up?
Back in my childhood days, the major fast food restaurant merely served "millions" of burgers. If I'm not mistaken, it's beyond billions now. I think you get the picture.
**Large portions of unhealthy foods, a lack of healthy foods, and a lack of daily physical activity are major contributors to the big decline in the health of our children.**
Prevention of childhood obesity should be our number one goal.
It is a well documented fact that obesity, with or without uncontrolled diabetes, can effect every major organ in the body and reduce one's life expectancy. The younger one is when they become overweight, the greater potential there is for suffering from complications and early death.
So! How do we, as parents, change the lifestyle our children have become accustomed to?
For starters, take a look at your own lifestyle behaviors.
• How are your eating habits? • Do you enable your family to actually sit down to a home cooked meal or are fast food establishments more your style? • Do you take time to enjoy your food or are you always eating on the run? Think about it?
What example are you setting for your children? Children learn by seeing and eating behaviors are a learned trait. The habits your children develop in their youth will most likely remain with them throughout adulthood.
Now look at your activity level. How much actual physical activity do you fit into your daily schedule? (I know you may do a lot of walking in your current job but that doesn't count. I'm talking real exercise here.)
When is the last time you rode a bike or simply went for a walk? Remember back in the days when gym class was something we had to take every day? Nowadays, children are lucky to have gym class once a week.
When you consider this decrease in activity coupled with an increase in poor eating habits, it's no wonder we're raising heavier unfit youngsters.
** Children learn by example - how is your example? **
Be a healthy role model. Remember, we are dealing with children. Children learn best from seeing us do what we expect them to do. This is what is meant by "Practice what you preach". Unfortunately, when it comes to raising our children, many of us rely on the "Do as I say not as I do" method. This latter method just doesn't work when it comes to our children.
Food, Fun n' Fitness: Designing Healthy Lifestyles for Our Children - www.FoodFunNFitness.com - does a superb job explaining the importance of healthy lifestyle habits as the foundation for healthy children & healthy adults. (Be sure to read more about it at www.FoodFunNFitness.com - you'll be glad you did!)
Luckily, healthy living is not as difficult as it sounds. The trick is to start making changes slowly. There's nothing worse than incorporating drastic changes into our lives and the lives of our children.
For starters, try scheduling in merely 15 minutes of family time after dinner. Everyone could go for a nice walk around the neighborhood, go down to the park and shoot some baskets, ride your bikes or take a dip in the pool.
The actual activity you choose is not important. What is important is the doing. See, that sounds easy enough, doesn't it?
** Just do it! Get moving, every little bit counts! **
Now for the food. How many times per week do you frequent fast food places or order food out? How do your food choices compare with the healthful choices mentioned in the article "Nutrition for a Healthy Diabetes Lifestyle," found on this website? If your lifestyle is pretty regimented and you tend to eat out a certain number of times and your food choices tend to be high in fat and calories, try eliminating one night out. I realize cooking may seem like a big hassle some days but it's really not difficult to come up with a quick, healthy meal.
Besides, eating home as a family adds more quality time with your children and usually means healthier meals.
Okay now for the test. What are you doing after dinner tonight?