Did you know that children living in the Bronx have the highest levels of obesity in New York City and that nearly one-third of Bronx students are overweight? Being overweight can put your child at risk for developing type 2 diabetes. But, there are ways to help prevent your child from developing this condition.
What Is Type 2 Diabetes?
Type 2 diabetes is a chronic condition that affects the way your body metabolizes sugar (glucose), an important source of fuel for your body. With type 2 diabetes, your body either resists the effects of insulin (a hormone that regulates the movement of sugar into your cells) or doesn't produce enough insulin to maintain normal glucose levels.
We get glucose from the foods we eat, but when blood glucose levels become uncontrolled over a period of time, diabetes begins to develop. High blood glucose levels cause damage to eyes, nerves, heart, and kidneys—all with potentially long-term consequences. However, there are warning signs you can spot now to help prevent your child from developing diabetes.
How Can I Tell If My Child Might Have Diabetes?
Your child may have diabetes if they exhibit:
What Puts My Child at Risk for Diabetes?
- Sudden weight loss
- Frequent urination
- Increased fatigue and exhaustion
- Constant thirst
- Thick, dark skin on the neck or underarms
Your child may be at risk of developing diabetes if they:
Five Ways to Help Prevent Your Child from Developing Diabetes
Make Sure They Get Up and Play!
- Are overweight
- Are not physically active
- Have a parent with diabetes
Research has shown that children within a healthy weight range and those who spend at least one hour a day being physically active have a low risk of developing diabetes. Being active doesn’t require lots of space. You and your child can dance to your favorite songs or take walks around the neighborhood or even your apartment. Every step counts!
Limit Fast Food
Fast food is an easy and convenient meal option when you're on the go, but fast food options come with serious consequences. Because they’re high in sugar, salt, unhealthy fats, and empty calories, fast food meals should be avoided or limited to once a week maximum. Buying or cooking in bulk once a week lessens the temptation to resort to fast food at the last minute.
Eat Five Servings of Fruit and Vegetables Every Day
According to the CDC, 93% of children eat only one serving of vegetables per day. You may wonder how you could possibly offer your children five servings of fruits and vegetables, seven days a week. Planning ahead is the key to success. For small children (ages 1-6), a serving is about the size of their hand.
Examples of a Serving for Children:
- Half of a Large Apple
- Half of a Banana
- 4 or 5 Strawberries
- Half of a Sweet Potato
- One-half Cup of Spinach
Try to incorporate two servings of vegetables into each meal for your child. Fruits make a great snack and can be packed into lunches or eaten at home as an after-school snack. If you are short on time, try smoothies for breakfast! It’s a delicious way to get the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables for the day.
Substitute Water for Sugary Drinks
Juice and soda are packed with high levels of sugar and provide little nutritional value. Encourage your child to drink water with every meal instead of soda and pack a water bottle in their lunches for them. Or, if your child gets a school-provided lunch, encourage them to choose water or 1% milk with their meal. Drinking water instead of juice or soda can save up to 250 calories per day! Every healthy choice counts!
Limit TV and Video Games to One Hour a Day
Encourage your children to limit screen time. Technology can become addictive and, before you know it, your child may be in front of a TV or computer for hours! When children are bored, they are more likely to entertain themselves with what they like to do most. Limit TV and video games to one hour a day and encourage your child to spend the rest of their time reading, staying active, and spending time with other family members.
Additional Tips for the Family
Flu season is here! With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we want to make sure your family stays healthy. It’s so important for your health and the health of your loved ones to get the annual flu shot. Schedule a flu shot as soon as you can
or, if you already have a doctor’s visit planned, ask about getting the flu shot at your appointment by calling 646-680-5200
. It will only take a few minutes and can help keep you and your family protected from the flu this season.