Here are some tips to prevent diabetes in young kids and teens.
By Prachi Mandholia
Today, November 14 is marked as World Diabetes Day. This day seeks to raise awareness among families to discover, prevent and manage diabetes. The theme for World Diabetes Day 2018-2019 is ‘The Family and Diabetes’. It focuses on the fact that families need to work together in adopting a healthy lifestyle in order to prevent and manage diabetes.
In Type 2 diabetes, the body either does not make insulin or does not use the insulin effectively. This results in the inability of insulin to regulate blood sugar. A lifestyle that includes healthy eating and regular exercise can help in preventing Type 2 diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes, previously known as the adult onset disease, is on a rise among young children and teens, owing to obesity and lack of physical activity.
Early diagnosis and treatment is key to helping and preventing the complications of diabetes. The early signs of diabetes include:
- Excessive thirst
- Frequent urination
- Lack of energy
- Blurred vision
- Slow healing wounds
- Numbness of hands and feet
Tips for parents to help prevent diabetes in young children and teens:
Obesity is the leading cause of diabetes. Weight can be kept in check by healthy eating and regular physical activity.
Make healthy food choices
* Stock healthy foods at home. Out of sight, out of mind works for all.
* Choose healthy options for breakfast and lunch tiffin.
* Feed a sugar craving with a fruit or dried fruits.
* Restrict sugar-loaded desserts like cupcakes and donuts to once a month. Instead, try making healthy sweets with jaggery and honey at home.
* Trick them into sugarcane or lemon juice instead of cold drinks and packaged juice.
* Adopt healthy cooking methods like baking, grilling, roasting instead of frying.
* Make sure their meal time does not coincide with screen time.
* Limit visits to fast food restaurants.
* Send them for nutrition education workshops to learn about healthy and unhealthy food choices.
* Be a good role model.
* Limit screen time to not more than one hour per day.
* Make sure children are engaged in physical activity for 60 minutes every day.
* Limit visits to malls and instead, aim for trips to adventure, amusement or nature parks.
* Be active as a family. Go for walks, cycling or do any activity together.
* Set a good example by being active yourself.
Pointers to follow
* Get a medical checkup done, if you notice any signs.
* An overweight child does not need to be put on a weight loss diet. Growing children need a lot of nutrients, so take guidance from a certified nutritionist.
Managing diabetes in children can be challenging. Parents must seek help of Diabetes Educators who can guide them in day to day care of their children. The Guidance Program would include:
* Developing a healthy eating plan.
* Tracking blood sugar.
* Signs of high and blood sugar and its management.
* Usage of insulin injections, pens, or pump.
* Foot, skin and eye care.
(The writer is a registered dietitian and a certified diabetes educator. She is a practicing Clinical Nutritionist, based out of Mumbai. For more ideas, email at email@example.com.)