Feature post Nutrition Wellness

Tips for Preventing Type 2 Diabetes in Kids

Diet, exercise and sleep are critical to health

Kids are now at a greater risk of getting type 2 diabetes. A study conducted by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention states that about 193,000 American children and adolescents younger than 20 years of age are living with diabetes. While type 1 diabetes used to be the leading type of diabetes in kids (even called juvenile diabetes),  type 2 now composes about a quarter of all childhood diabetes cases. A few decades ago it made up roughly 5 percent of adolescent cases. Heightened risk factors include genetics, poor lifestyle habits learned at a young age, and other environmental factors. While there’s no current way to prevent type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes is a severe health condition that is possible to avoid or delay. Remember, prevention requires intervention, so it’s important for parents and guardians to encourage healthy lifestyle choices at a young age. 

Healthy habits learned early will help children ward off type 2 diabetes for a lifetime.

Here are a few type 2 diabetes prevention tips:

Encourage a healthy lifestyle in your kid’s everyday life

Past medical history, obesity or other factors are all concerns for your child developing type 2 diabetes. When kids have lots of screen time, limited physical activity and frequently consume sugary foods, their bloodstream floods with stagnant sugar, causing the pancreas to work overtime to produce insulin to keep up with the abundance. Continual poor lifestyle habits cause the body to grow insulin resistant. Without change, your child will have a higher chance of developing diabetes by the time they are in their teens. To stop type 2 in its tracks, start by setting a new normal for the entire family. First, make bedtime a priority and teach your kids why sleep is essential. Rest is a time for the body to heal, and if there isn’t enough of it, it increases the chances of disease and sickness. Next, limit screen time with a five-step withdrawal process, including tablets and television, to only two hours a day, Replace it with physical play. When kids move, they effectively decrease spiked blood sugar. And finally, replace high-sugar snacks, sugary sodas and junk food with healthier options. 

Replace sugary snacks and desserts with fresh or freeze-dried fruit snacks with no added sugar.

Incorporate healthy snacks into your kid’s diet

Incorporating healthy snacks and meal choices into your kid’s lifestyle is easier said than done. Try to incorporate small, gradual changes. For example, you want to limit sugary drinks and juice and replace them with more water consumption. One idea is offering fresh fruit smoothies. Fruits are filled with tons of water to give kids the adequate hydration they need and other essential vitamins and nutrients without compromising taste. Try tweaking family-favorite meals to include healthier ingredients. For example, if you make your kid’s favorite homemade macaroni and cheese, you can substitute regular pasta for chickpea pasta, and swap out sour cream or cream cheese for plain greek yogurt. As for snacking, you can swap out treats high in sugar, such as fruit snacks, for fun and healthier alternative like Crispy Green’s Crispy Fruit. These freeze-dried fruit snacks are ideal for kids, as they give kids all the sweetness they love without the added sugar. There are so many simple alternations that you can make to the things your family eats that will not only be equally delicious but also be an immense help in preventing type 2 as well. Try these 11 Healthy Food Swaps

Make outdoor physical exercise a daily part of your child’s routine.

Reinforce kid-friendly physical activity

Limiting screen time and reinforcing physical activity can help prevent type 2 diabetes in kids. Physical activity is one of the most dynamic ways to lower blood sugar, keep it at a steady rate, and help prevent insulin resistance. When encouraging children to have at least 60 minutes of play a day, it can be helpful to mix it up and do different activities that are enjoyable for all. Also, this can be used as a time to bond together as a family. With summer in full swing, make outdoor activities for kids a priority.

Some outdoor activities you can do together include:

  • Going for a hike.
  • Taking a bike ride. 
  • Walking around the neighborhood.
  • Having them help with yard work or gardening.
  • Rollerblading in the driveway.
  • Going for a swim.
  • Using chalk to trace each other’s bodies or to make hopscotch.
  • Jumping on a trampoline. 

Swimming is a great way to cool off in the summer while getting exercise.

Exercise when you’re trapped inside, too

Even if the weather prevents your family from getting outside, don’t let that stop you from moving. Kids can help with vacuuming, sweeping, picking up toys for an incentive such as a weekly allowance. Alternatively, together you can find fun games that are indoor-friendly. For instance, hide-n-seek, playing Twister or dancing are all ideas to help kids get their blood moving.  Your kids and the entire family will be on the right track to a healthier life. 

— SLB Staff