Diabetes and Child Obesity

Type 2 diabetes commonly afflicting adults is now increasingly affecting obese children as young as ten or twelve years of age!

Prior to 1997, there were few documented cases of children impacted with this disease. When a child experienced the illness before that time, it was deemed rare due to the expectation of a diagnosis being limited to adults over age 40. Since that time, the rising incidence of childhood obesity and the alarming rate of reports about such children facing a diabetic crisis have stirred the medical community.

There are two primary types of diabetes mellitus, usually simply called diabetes. Type 1 is genetic and therefore most likely experienced by those whose direct ancestry were confronted with the problem. The root cause is the liver's inability to produce insulin which is crucial to maintaining blood sugar within normal, or safe, levels.

Type 2 diabetes, on the other hand, usually results from the inability of the body to use insulin properly. The risk of developing this type of diabetes is significantly aggravated by inactivity and obesity. Children who live predominantly sedentary lives and whose weight increases disproportionately to their age and physical structure are most at risk.

The appearance of type 2 diabetes in an obese child includes four tell-tale signs: excessive thirst, excessive hunger, excessive urination, and excessive weight gain. Interestingly, a person afflicted with type 2 diabetes often experiences sweat, urine and breath with an unnatural sweet scent. In addition to these indicators, a person must also become attentive to wounds that heal very slowly as yet another sign of the disease.

Diabetes is diagnosed by measuring a person's blood sugar level. The normal range is 70-100 mg/dl, and in children with diabetes the count may go as high as 400 mg/dl. Studies reveal that the ethnic groups most likely to be impacted are Hispanic and African American children. Concerning gender, females are more prone to face the type 2 diabetes threat than boys.

The good news is that there is hope - and it is not complicated. The primary treatments for type 2 diabetes are diet and exercise; for type 1 it is daily insulin shots. A child who is either unable or unwilling to eat nourishing food and burn calories through physical activities faces more significant health challenges.

If diet and exercise cannot effectively maintain the blood sugar levels within an individual's normal ranges, oral anti-diabetic agents must be prescribed as an alternative. And finally, if those tablets do not work efficiently, insulin shots are a last resort for treating obese children with diabetes.