Childhood Diabetes Rising Dramatically

One in three U.S. kids born in 2000 will grow up to be diabetic, say researchers.

What is Diabetes? 

Diabetes is a disease that impairs the body’s ability to use food.  The most common form of the disease is type 2 diabetes, which affects about 16 million Americans. 

In basic terms, type 2 diabetes prevents the body from either producing or using the hormone insulin.  Without insulin, the body cannot break down sugar (or glucose), which it uses for energy.  As a result, sugar builds up in the blood and causes many health problems – ranging from frequent urination and weight loss to blindness and heart disease. 

While the cause of diabetes remains a mystery, researchers have discovered that being overweight can trigger the onset of diabetes because excessive fat prevents insulin from working properly.  

Source: American Diabetes Association

As Americans’ waistlines continue to grow, so too do their children’s chances of becoming diabetic. One in three American children born in 2000 will suffer from diabetes unless more people start eating less and exercising more, warns a researcher at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

African-American and Hispanic children are at an even greater risk: nearly half of them will likely develop the disease due to their traditionally high-fat diets, according to K.M. Venkat Narayan, M.D., a diabetes specialist at the CDC. 

Diabetes can cause a host of health problems, including kidney failure, blindness, limb amputations, heart disease and stroke.  Currently about 17 million Americans (or 6 percent of the U.S. population) have obesity-related diabetes.  That number, however, could balloon to 45 or 50 million (about 24 percent of the U.S. population) by 2050 if the obesity epidemic continues to expand, according to the CDC.

So what can you do to stem this alarming trend?  For starters, trim the fat from your family’s diet and load up on the fruits and veggies.  Turn off the TV, unplug the video game systems and get your kids moving.  Just 45 to 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity a day can dramatically reduce an elementary-age child’s risk of getting obesity-related diabetes, according to the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.