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Diabetes Expert Shares Tips to Combat the Rise in Pediatric Diabetes during November National Diabetes Awareness Month

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Diabetes Expert Shares Tips to Combat the Rise in Pediatric Diabetes during November National Diabetes Awareness Month

November is National Diabetes Awareness Month and over the past two decades, an increase in pediatric diabetes continues to raise alarms among medical experts. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 11.6% of Americans are diagnosed with diabetes, a chronic condition that affects the body’s ability to regulate sugar and produce insulin to maintain good health. According to a CDC study published in 2022, experts estimate that in 2060, there could be as many as 220,000 people under age 20 with Type 2 diabetes, an increase of nearly 700%.

Evelyn Scott, RN, MSN, MPH, CDCES, Inpatient Diabetes Coordinator at Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center, emphasizes the importance of diabetes education among parents and teaching young people healthy lifestyle habits that can prevent diabetes and other chronic health conditions.

What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a chronic health condition that affects how the body processes food into energy. The body breaks down food that is eaten and turns it into sugar (glucose) and releases it into the bloodstream. When blood sugar in the body rises, it signals the pancreas to release insulin. Insulin acts like a key to let the blood sugar into your body’s cells for use as energy.

With diabetes, the body doesn’t make enough insulin or can’t use it as well as it should. When there isn’t enough insulin or cells stop responding to insulin, too much blood sugar stays in your bloodstream, which can damage cells in the body. Over time, diabetes that goes unmanaged can cause serious health problems, such as heart disease, vision loss, and kidney disease.

What are symptoms of pediatric diabetes?

Mrs. Scott says symptoms of pediatric diabetes can develop so gradually that there no noticeable symptoms, though some children may experience the following symptoms: increased thirst, frequent urination, fatigue, extreme hunger, unintended weight loss, blurred vision, darkened areas of skin, stomach pain and nausea.

What are the risk factors for pediatric Type 2 Diabetes?

Risk factors for pediatric diabetes may include sedentary lifestyle, poor eating habits, being overweight or obese and family history. Children born to women who had gestational diabetes or babies born overweight, also have a higher risk of developing diabetes.

Why is pediatric diabetes on the rise?

Lifestyle is the main contributor to the increase of pediatric diabetes cases. Playing video games or watching TV or tablets for extended periods of time and unhealthy eating habits have led to the rise of children developing sedentary lifestyles and obesity, which contributes to the rise of pediatric type 2 diabetes. Family history, race or ethnicity, age and sex also play a role in which children may be at risk for the disease.

How can I prevent my child from having pediatric Type 2 diabetes?

To prevent pediatric diabetes, parents should help their children maintain a well-balanced diet that is filled with fruits, vegetables and grains and engage in regular exercise to maintain a healthy weight. Going for walks, riding bikes, playing at the park will improve their health and create fun family experiences.

Mrs. Scott says taking your child grocery shopping and involving them in meal planning can encourage them to try new healthy foods. She also recommends checking your city’s recreation department for affordable sports programs.

If you think your child might be at-risk for Type 2 Diabetes, schedule a well visit with your pediatrician for a health assessment. To find a pediatrician near you, visit: