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Type II Diabetes Surging in Kids

Posted on 03/29/2011

Type II diabetes, once thought of as an "old age disease" is now popping up in younger and younger children. The trend is alarming and frightening with the numbers surging from year to year.

This is a relatively new problem we're seeing that is directly tied to the obesity epidemic in this country. I'm sure it is not the first or last effect we'll see when it is all said and done.  Something must be done...now!

Even as recently as the mid-1990s, Type II diabetes was basically an adult disease with very few children being diagnosed with it. Fast-forward a decade and it has gone from virtually non-existent to tens of thousands of children with this serious and potentially deadly disease.

The scary part is that nobody knows how these kids will live the rest of their lives with this serious disease. The reason being is that this is basically scientifically new ground they are living.  How will they survive, thrive and how will their quality of life be as a result of being diagnosed so young with this disease?

Diabetes can cause a number of medical problems, including heart disease, amputations, blindness and kidney failure. The disease costs the U.S. healthcare system upwards of $174 billion a year, according to the National Institutes of Health. And, what this means with younger people with the disease is anybody's guess.

Since Type II diabetes is most often suffered by those who are overweight or obese, it is no surprise that nearly 80 percent of those with the disease are too heavy.

Although a medical diagnosis is a warning, it should not be considered chronic. Type II diabetes is completely manageable and often with weight loss and improved lifestyle habits, one can reverse that diagnosis. I've seen it time and again, even with a five-pound weight loss, blood sugars are improved and overall health is re-gained.

Today, about 4,000 -- 3,700 to be exact -- Americans under 20 years old receive a Type II diabetes diagnosis each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That figure may sound relatively small, and it is. However, given the figure in 10 years went from nothing to this...that is what is most alarming and frightening to those in the public health and medical community.

While those numbers are high, it is important to note that 25 million people in the U.S. have diabetes. Of which, 90 percent have Type II diabetes. And, that does not include those with "pre-diabetes"...that figure totals 79 million Americans, and many of which do not even know it.

I guess if there's a silver lining in this, it would be that children are young and able to make changes and adapt relatively well. If they and their parents take the diabetes diagnosis serious and know they can manage it. They can be in control of it, if they make some major lifestyle changes that they may even be able to change the course of their lives and rid themselves of the diabetes label.

There is hope, but we must prevent this in the first place. Preventing the disease through healthy lifestyles including diet and exercise. If children are diagnosed, we need to take aggressive measures to change the direction of their lives for them. We owe them that much. We need our children for the future. Without them, what do we really have?

post-author

Seattle Sutton, BSN, RN

She made healthy eating her mission in life long before anyone else did, in hopes of helping her own obese father. A registered nurse by training and entrepreneur at heart, she lives, eats and breathes everything about healthy eating and helping to improve people’s eating habits and overall health. She enjoys never having to bother with grocery shopping, cooking and counting calories. Her favorite SSHE meal, although it’s hard to pick just one, is the Potato Gnocchi with Basil Pesto Sauce.

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