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Parents should take care of their children’s diet and physical activity to reduce the risk of their children developing type-2 diabetes

By Dr V Ashwin Karuppan

For many years, type-2 diabetes or diabetes mellitus was considered an adult-only condition. But recently, we have seen a surge in Type 2 diabetes among children. Sedentary lifestyles and unhealthy eating habits among children are emerging as the most prevalent cause for this. Although digitalisation has its benefits, it has become a curse for kids who keep themselves glued to gadgets and avoid physical activity. As parents, we must ensure to inculcate healthy living habits in our kids so that they do not develop any such lifestyle diseases at an early age.

Type 2 diabetes arises when the body is unable to utilise the insulin hormone properly; as a result, the blood sugar levels soar, which can affect the blood vessels and other body organs. Type-2 diabetes is potentially very aggressive and needs to be taken care of in adults and children. Obesity and lack of physical activity can trigger its development.

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What are the factors that trigger type-2 diabetes in children?

Obesity: With 14.4 million obese children, India has the second-highest number of obese children. But did you know obesity causes insulin resistance? Yes, obesity causes insulin resistance in the body which can trigger the development of type-2 diabetes.

Lack of physical activity: Children these days are mostly glued to their gadgets, especially during the coronavirus pandemic. Lack of physical activity increases the risk of children developing type-2 diabetes as a sedentary lifestyle can cause obesity and insulin resistance.

Age: Kids in their teens or early teens are at risk of developing type-2 diabetes because there is a lot of hormone activity during puberty, especially in girls.

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Risk factors for developing type-2 diabetes in children

  • Family history of diabetes

  • Kids born to mothers who had gestational diabetes

  • Obese children who lead a sedentary lifestyle

Lifestyle modifications to decrease the risk

Parents should take care of their children’s diet and physical activity to reduce the risk of their children developing type-2 diabetes. Set an example to your child so that they happily welcome healthy changes in their lifestyles. You can encourage them to include the following changes in their lifestyle:

  • Drink more water, and avoid drinking packaged drinks

  • Include plenty of fruits and vegetables in their diet

  • Do not insist your child to overeat

  • Serve small portions of food

  • Go for walks

  • Play a sport

  • Indulge in physical activities every day for at least one hour

Keeping your child physically engaged during the pandemic can be a bit tricky, but it can be helpful for your child’s well-being. If your child is overweight, make sure he eats healthy and does physical exercise every day. Avoid putting your child on a weight loss diet without consulting your doctor.

(The writer is Consultant Internal Medicine & Diabetology, Tambaram Medical Center, Chennai.)

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