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Beating Diabetes: Children and Type II Diabetes Mellitus

This month, guest blogger Michelle Matte, CSCS has been discussing diabetes in recognition of American Diabetes Month. We started with a general overview to increase awareness about diabetes. We then focused on Managing Type I and 2 Diabetes through Exercise and Nutrition and Diabetes. Today we will discuss Children and Type II Diabetes Mellitus.


Facts About Kids and DM 2

Not many years ago, Type II Diabetes Mellitus, or DM 2, was known as adult-onset diabetes because it was rarely seen in children and young adults. But recent statistics reveal an alarming rise in the incidence of DM 2 in younger populations. According to the International Society for Pediatric and Adolescent Diabetes (ISPAD), the median age of the onset of Type II DM in children is 13.5 years. The disease is more prevalent in children of African, Native American, Mexican and South Asian descent. The American Diabetes Association estimates that 208,000 Americans under age 20 have diagnosed diabetes.

diabetes girl

At the Heart of Things

Lifestyle and dietary habits play a significant role in the early onset DM 2. Low levels of physical activity coupled with improper nutrition are key triggers. ISPAD recommends intensive lifestyle interventions, including physical activity that leads to improved exercise capacity, weight loss, decreased consumption of total calories and calories from carbohydrates, and education for the entire family. Unless the family is on board, it is difficult for a child to make major lifestyle changes.

family jump for joy

Getting Physical

Physical activity is critical for treating and preventing DM 2 in children. Yet children with DM 2 are often overweight or obese, and may feel reluctant to engage in team sports or school sponsored activities. The National Diabetes Education Program, or NDEP, recommends a program that begins with walking, and strategies that increase activity throughout the day, like taking the stairs instead of the elevator. NDEP encourages a gradual increase in exercise duration and intensity, coupled with weight loss. The goal is for children to engage in 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity each day.

diabetes child

Nutrition Strategies for Reversing DM 2

Making nutritional changes can be a challenge at first, because it may require letting go of habits that are a part of your regular daily routine. Eliminating sugary beverages, including juice and soda, is a good place to start. Encourage children to drink plenty of fresh water. Include several daily servings of fresh fruits and vegetables, and reduce the consumption of bread, pasta, rice and corn. Discourage snacking and junk food, and identify high risk scenarios, like snacking while watching TV or using the computer.



ISPAD Clinical Practice Consensus Guidelines 2014 Compendium: Type 2 diabetes in the child and adolescent.


American Diabetes Association: Statistics About Diabetes.


National Diabetes Education Program: Tips for Kids: How to Lower Your Risk for Type 2 Diabetes.




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