In 30 years, Type 2 Diabetes (T2D), once considered an adult disease, has risen in children worldwide at an alarming rate. With T2D children are more at risk for other chronic health ailments and diseases. Children growing obese are more likely to remain obese into adulthood, to have Type 2 diabetes, to suffer cardiovascular problems, and to have a shorter lifespan (Johnson, 2012).
Likewise, these children suffer more teasing and rejection than their peers, which often leads to psychosocial issues such as depression and a poor self-image. Modifications to lifestyle factors can be successful in treating this disease. Parents, schools and the healthcare team can work together for successful outcomes in implementing necessary changes.
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Obesity, improper nutrition, a sedentary lifestyle, plus genetic components have contributed to this growing epidemic among children. T2D patients become insulin resistant and typically present with two or more coexisting conditions such as polyuria, polydipsia, hyperlipidemia, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), or acanthosis nigricans (Reinehr, 2013). Diabetics also often have a high waist measurement for their height and age. Excessive food and sugar intake, a lack of adequate physical activity, poor sleep habits, high rates of screen time, and familial incidence of T2D are also contributing factors to this disease in children.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (2018), by 2016 obesity rates had tripled since the1970s with 1 in 5 (20%) children considered obese compared to the study by Johnson (2012), who reported that there were only 5-7% of children considered to be within the BMI range of obesity about 50 years ago.
These factors are important to understanding how changes can be implemented to reverse this growing epidemic. Genetics cannot be changed; however, the markers that are expressed can be influenced by simple changes giving the child a greater chance to live a healthy life. Metabolism is affected by energy input and energy output. If the foods that are eaten are processed, high in sugar, or consumed above caloric needs, then it results in an unhealthy weight gain and high blood glucose levels.
The body will continue to crave food when the nutritional needs are not being met. Johnson (2018) explains that often schools include vending machines that are full of sugary drink options or high calorie, high-fat snack items. In this way, schools can also be promoting unhealthy eating habits. Also, the lack of physical activity is influenced with high ?screen time which includes television, computers, video games, and cell phones. Instead of seeking or lacking the opportunity to participate in moderate activity daily, a child can inadvertently spend a considerable time sitting and being inactive. The ease of transportation has reduced the amount of time walking or biking within our society as well. Poor sleep can occur with the lack of activity and screen time within close proximity to going to bed.
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