The incidence of type 2 diabetes, formerly considered a disease of middle and old age, has been regularly developing among children and teenagers. Data from developed nations shows that this increase parallels a similar rise in the ubiquity of childhood and teenage obesity. While type 2 diabetes in kids and teenagers is as yet not a major common health problem in our country, new reports revealing rising levels of obesity among youngsters especially in our metropolitan cities give cause for attention.
Overweight and obesity are big risk factors for type 2 diabetes at all ages. This is all the more so among Indians who tend to improve diabetes at younger ages and lower levels of obesity than white Caucasians. The continuous rise in childhood obesity in our country has the potential to explode into an epidemic of youth-onset diabetes unless coordinated and concrete action is taken by health professionals, policymakers, parents, and the society at large.
Reasons and some symptoms that may help to determine if the child has or is at risk for childhood obesity:
- Family records of obesity-related fitness risks such as early cardiovascular disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure levels and type 2 diabetes.
- Family history of cigarette smoking and sedentary behavior.
- Skin diseases acanthosis nigricans (ugly or dirty skin on the neck and axilla region) or skin tags.
- Psychological / Psychiatric Issues like poor self-esteem, negative self-image, depression, and withdrawal from peers have been associated with obesity.
- Models of sedentary behavior (such as too much television viewing) and low physical activity levels.
- Low self-confidence and inferiority complex may lead to overeating, anorexia nervosa, etc.,
A healthy well-balanced diet for children
Parents concerned about their kid’s weight should support a variety of fresh, nutritious foods in his or her diet.
The following tips may be useful:
- Foods rich in “complex carbohydrates”, are bulky relative to the number of calories they contain. This makes them fulfilling and nutritious.
- Sources such as bread, potatoes, pasta, rice, and chapatti produce half the energy in a child’s diet.
- Rather than high-fat foods like chocolate, biscuits, cakes and crisps, try healthfuller alternatives such as fresh fruit, crusty bread, or crackers.
- Try to cook foods instead of frying. Burgers, fingers, and sausages are just as tasty when grilled, but have a lower fat content. Oven chips are below in fat than deep-fried chips.
- Avoid fizzy beverages that are high in sugar. Replace them with fresh juices diluted with water or sugar-free options.
- A healthful breakfast of low-sugar cereal (e.g. wholemeal wheat biscuits) milk, plus a piece of fruit is a great start to the day.
- Instead of desserts, offer dried fruit or tinned fruit in natural juice. Frozen yogurt is an alternative to ice cream.
Healthy Eating Environment
A well-planned meal with vegetables that contribute to a kid’s well-being can be one of life’s biggest pleasures. To make mealtime pleasant, build a healthy food environment. When children are exposed to healthy foods early, they are more likely to improve habits that support healthy weight as they grow. fixed meal times, choose the foods offered, and encourage an inviting place to eat. Inspirit eating slowly, with enjoyment. Avoid pushing children to eat. Help the children join in the meal by serving themselves and provide wholesome choices and allow them to pick which food and how much to eat. Totally avoid TV watching and computer games while eating
Consult Dr. Ashutosh Sonawane is a Consultant Adult & Pediatric Endocrinologist & Diabetologist at SARTHAK HEALTH CLINIC Nashik.