Posted by: coachingparents | November 24, 2008

Coaching Kids for Health: Managing Type 2 Diabetes in Children, Part 2


By Dr. Caron Goode, NCC

Children who have Type 2 diabetes can learn to manage their lifestyle so they remain healthy for the rest of their lives.

How Do Children Get Diabetes?

A definite diagnosis of Type 2 Diabetes is made through blood tests. Blood glucose levels are measured, which offers an indication of blood sugar control. Another common test is to measure “glycosylated hemoglobin,” which calculates the average blood sugar levels over the last 2-3 months.

You may be wondering how children develop the disease in the first place and how to treat this condition so your child can experience a relatively normal life. The answer is not being dependent on so called “safe and effective” drugs that may cause unwanted or even serious side effects. The answer is to seek natural sources like natural liquid vitamins and to develop nutritious diets and exercise programs.

This disease is entirely manageable by making simple lifestyle changes. The main reason for the recent Type 2 Diabetes epidemic in young people today and the answer to treating this adverse condition is, in its entirety, lifestyle.

Coaching for a Healthy Lifestyle

We are living in an age where convenience is king. There’s a fast food restaurant on every corner where fat and sugar-laden meals are just a few bucks. Because of television sets, computers and cell phones, kids are spending more time sitting in front of a screen each day than most adults work in a single shift. The thousands of junk food commercials that children watch each year do nothing but reinforce the idea of fast foods and video games, all counterproductive to staying fit and reducing diabetes risk. More so than ever before, children are slammed with messages of junk foods to include sugary cereals, high fat snacks and sugary fruit juices peddled on the pretext that they are sources of natural liquid vitamins.

The first step is to promote an active lifestyle for your child. The good news is that this does not need to be a boring regimented exercise program that probably wouldn’t be maintained for very long anyway. Physical exercise can include any activity where your child is moving such as playing baseball, doing chores or even walking the dog. The key to success is to encourage your children to get regular activity without making them feel as if they are being scolded or forced into something they don’t want to do. Keep it fun and light. Better yet, regular exercise can become a family affair. Riding bikes together, throwing and catching a football or taking a hike together are all great ways to get exercise and increase quality family time all in one smooth swoop. Exercise speeds up calorie expenditure promoting weight loss and also increases insulin sensitivity and receptivity in the cells. Regular exercise has a dramatic rate on the amount of insulin the body will require.

The second step is to encourage changes in eating habits and moving to nutrition, not just food that fills the mouth. The American Diabetes Association has recently backed away from encouraging a rigid meal plan for children and adolescents and instead has adopted a better approach. Their new recommendation encourages children to follow principles.

  • The first principle is that eating an equal amount of sugar or starch will raise blood sugar the same amount.
  • The second is that carbohydrates affect blood glucose, with protein and fat having little effect.
  • Consuming protein and healthy fats with small amounts of carbohydrates can reduce the spike seen in blood sugar after meals.
  • What’s the take home message from this recommendation? Reducing and ideally eliminating starch and sugar in the diet will help control blood sugar fluctuations.
  • Encourage your children to eat foods high in protein and moderate portions of fat. Foods that are high in protein include clean meats, eggs, cheese and nuts.
  • Foods that are high in fat should be eaten in moderation because they can cause weight gain and increase the risk for chronic diseases in adulthood such as heart disease and cancer.
  • Fruits and vegetables are healthful food choices, abundant with health promoting plant chemicals called phytonutrients. While fruits and vegetables are absolutely power packed with essential nutrition, keep in mind that fruit sugar (called fructose) may induce high blood sugar spikes. In many cases no different from a candy bar.
  • While fruit is an excellent component of the daily diet for a Type 2 Diabetic child, an emphasis should be placed on large amounts of phytonutrients rich leafy greens.

The third step is to educate your children early about the benefits of proper food choices and regular activity and continuing to encourage them throughout their teenage years. Habits developed during childhood often remain intact through adulthood. Children with Type 2 Diabetes and their families should participate in education programs that teach them how to self manage their disease.  Parents and siblings influence children, so the entire family can become informed about the condition and encourage each other to engage in healthy behaviors. Physicians, nurses and exercise physiologists host diabetes education programs. These professionals cover topics such as meal planning, exercise programs and the self monitoring of glucose levels, just to name a few of the many benefits.

If your children have these consistent positive influences, they will develop the habits and motivation needed to defeat Type 2 Diabetes for good.

_______________________________________________________________

REFERENCES

1. American Diabetes Association. “Diabetes Symptoms”, accessed OCT 2008
2. University of Maryland Medical Center. “Diabetes – Type 2”, accessed OCT 2008
3. WebMd Health News, “6 Deaths Reported From Diabetes Drug Byetta”, OCT 17 2008
4. University, op cit.
5. BBN, American Family Physician, “Treatment of Diabetes with Metformin and Insulin”, FEB 2007
6. CBS News, “Old Diabetes Drug Has Advantages”, JULY 2007
7. American Diabetes Association, Diabetes Care, “Dancing with Many Different Ghosts: Treatment of Youth with Type 2  Diabetes”, Heather J. Dean, MD, FRCPC, 2002
8. American Osteopathic College of Dermatology, “Acanthosis Nigricans”, accessed OCT 2008
9. New York Times, “Type 2 Diabetes: Risk Factors”, OCT 17 2008
10 NDIC, “Diagnosis of Diabetes”, JAN 2005

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