The percentage of children and teens who are obese has more than tripled since the 1970s. Today about 20 percent of children between the ages of six and 19 — nearly 13 million — are obese.
Obesity tends to begin at home, and parents tired of health warnings about childhood obesity may want to consider their wallets as well as their child's prospects for long-term health. If your child is seriously overweight, consider that a new study finds that obese youngsters are far more likely to develop type 2 diabetes compared to kids with a normal body mass (BMI), which, if it comes to pass, will have a huge impact on a child's long-term health and a family's finances.
The SEARCH for Diabetes in Youth study began in 2000 as a nationwide study to better understand diabetes in children and young adults. It reported that 3,600 cases of type 2 diabetes were diagnosed each year between 2002 and 2005 in U.S. children and teens.
When the same researchers looked at obesity and type 2 diabetes in British children between 1994 and 2013, they found a similar trend. BMI measurements, diabetes diagnoses and other data were examined for nearly 370,000 children aged two to 15. Of the over 650 of the children and teens diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, nearly half were obese.
Type 2 diabetes has a huge impact on a child's long-term health and a family's finances.
“A child with obesity faces a four-fold greater risk of being diagnosed with diabetes by age 25 than a counterpart who is normal weight,” researcher, Ali Abbasi, of King's College London, said in a statement. “Diabetes imposes a heavy burden on society because the condition is common and costly to treat. Estimates indicate one in 11 adults has type 2 diabetes, or about 415 million people worldwide.”
Both type 2 diabetes and obesity are preventable, and efforts to avoid them are best begun early in life. Eating a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight and being physically active are the best ways to ward off these diseases.
No parent would knowingly expose their child to eye problems, foot problems, stomach problems, nerve damage, kidney disease, high blood pressure and heart disease, yet these are among the serious health problems that can develop with type 2 diabetes.
So if you find yourself getting ready to give in to your child's passionate desire for a soda, or a salty, fatty snack, don't just say, “No,” tell them why you would prefer not to give in to their request — even though it would be much easier to do so.
Preventing childhood obesity begins with parents and caregivers who eat well themselves, keep soda out of the fridge, encourage exercise and usually cook at home, rather than ordering in or eating out.
Abbasi is hopeful that the findings from this research, along with other studies, will also motivate the public and policymakers to invest and engage in efforts to prevent diabetes.
Preventing childhood and adolescent obesity is the first step to preventing type 2 diabetes. And that begins with parents and caregivers who eat well themselves, keep soda out of the fridge, encourage exercise and usually cook at home, rather than ordering in or eating out. And of course, these steps will protect parents' own health as well.
The study is published in the Journal of the Endocrine Society.