Tuesday, May 1st, 2012
We all know that obesity rates in youth are way too high and increasing. We all know that obesity in youth is associated with the onset of type 2 diabetes. And now new research – you can click here to read the report – is showing that the initial course of treatment for type 2 diabetes in obese youth only helps about half of the kids – suggesting many will go on to need insulin therapy before they reach adulthood.
What’s especially sobering is that this study was very well conducted. It used the most highly supported medication regimen for the early stages of type 2 diabetes along with psychological intervention designed to change lifestyles. The research protocol attempted to secure adherence to the interventions. The youth were carefully studied and monitored over time. Yet despite all this, in only half of the cases did the medication regimen achieve “glycemic control” – and that the psychological component did not produce additional benefit. Again – it bears repeating – the net result is that half of these kids will likely need insulin therapy in just a few years.
While it’s clear that researchers will continue to try to come up with more effective treatments for the early stages of type 2 diabetes in obese youth, this study provides yet another reason for parents to take prevention seriously in childhood. There are no magic bullets here – we all need to struggle with a number of environmental trends and pressures that promote the development of obesity in youth. So here are the logical places to start:
- Become familiar with the guidelines for how kids should eat. Have you seen the MyPlate representation of how to structure a kid’s meal? Click here to read about it.
- Become familiar with some of the thinking on how kids should exercise. I like this description of the types of exercise that all kids should get. Since many factors promote sedentary behavior in kids these days, try hard to find ways to be sure you kid is active everyday.
- Become familiar with sleep guidelines. Part of the obesity epidemic is tied to sleep issues (lack of appropriate amounts of sleep can have a direct effect on metabolic processes that are risk factors for type 2 diabetes). Convince yourself how important it is for a kid to get sufficient sleep. If you can’t find a good routine that works for your kid consider visiting a sleep clinic.
None of this is easy. It’s really not. Especially given the day to day challenges we all face as parents. But trying to be vigilant about your child’s nutrition, exercise, and sleep is the best pathway to trying to prevent obesity and the onset of type 2 diabetes.