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Tackling Diabetes Is No Piece of Cake
Facts and statistics about obesity and type 2 diabetes among youth.
Type 2 diabetes among children and adolescents has become a public health issue of great importance in the U.S. Here, we’ll take a look at some facts and statistics related to prevalence, progression, symptoms, and prevention of type 2 diabetes.
Let’s Take a Look at the Numbers
(The following data was drawn from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Diabetes Association, and KidsHealth.org)
It Starts With Obesity
- Over the past 30 years, childhood obesity has doubled among children (ages 6-11) and quadrupled among adolescents (ages 12-19).
- Over one third of all children and adolescents (in 2012) were deemed overweight or obese.
It Progresses to Prediabetes
- 25% of children and 21% of adolescents with severe obesity show prediabetic symptoms such as impaired glucose tolerance (IGT).
- During puberty, children and adolescents are more susceptible to developing diabetes. The increased hormone levels during this time of development create a natural insulin resistance.
It Takes Full-Form as Type 2 Diabetes
- Over 75% of children with type 2 diabetes have a first- or second-degree relative who has also been diagnosed.
- 15-19 year olds in minority populations are at the highest risk (among all youth) for developing type 2 diabetes.
- Populations at the highest risk:
- Native Americans
- Asian/Pacific Islanders
- African Americans
- However, non-Hispanic whites account for 14.9% of all type 2 diabetes cases.
- 10 years ago, less than 3% of all new-onset diabetes cases in youth were type 2. Today type 2 cases make up 45% of the diagnosed youth.
How It Works
- 1. The stomach turns food into glucose to provide the body with energy.
- 2. The increase in glucose triggers the pancreas to produce insulin.
- 3. The glucose and insulin enter the bloodstream and should absorb into the cells. However, type 2 diabetes prevents the body from responding normally to insulin. Instead, the body blocks insulin and glucose from entry into the cells, allowing them to build up in the bloodstream.
- Note: The lack of glucose in the cells and the build-up in the bloodstream leads to the common symptoms described below.
Signs and Symptoms
- Frequent urination: The kidneys are trying to get rid of the extra glucose by flushing it out in the urine.
- Severe thirst: In response to frequent urination, the body craves water in hopes of balancing out fluid levels.
- Excessive fatigue: The body needs glucose in the cells to produce energy.
Additional Health Concerns
Health and well-being risks related to childhood obesity (other than diabetes):
- Heart disease
- Sleep apnea
- Social discrimination
Cardiovascular risks that stem from type 2 diabetes:
- Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease
- Metabolic syndrome
If the disease is caught at prediabetes, symptoms and progression can be reversed or prevented. Common methods of prevention include:
- Healthy diet
- Regular exercise
- Prescribed medication
The best thing to do is to take action. If your child struggles with his or her weight, you may want to make an appointment to have their glucose levels checked. Try to identify and beat the disease before it gets to type 2 diabetes.
For more information about how to promote an active and healthy lifestyle for your child, check out additional resources at Spark PE | www.sparkpe.org