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Obesity Increases Childrens' Risk for Type 2 Diabetes

By Jean Campbell

diabetesWomen’s health dot gov, a project of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women’s Health published an extensive article, on Dec 30th on a study of childhood obesity and the increased risk of Type 2 diabetes.

What follows is a summary of the full article written by Dennis Thompson HealthDay Reporter.

A new study has found that the length of time a person carries excess weight directly contributes to an increased risk for type 2 diabetes.

Given that many of today’s young children are carrying a significant amount of excess weight from an early age, their chances of developing diabetes at some time in their lives is greater.

Dr. John E. Anderson, Vice President of Medicine and Science for the American Diabetes Association, said that research findings are pointing to what is now happening in our society, with more young children and teenagers diagnosed with type 2 diabetes than ever before.

“A disease that used to be confined to older people is creeping into high schools,” Anderson said. “At best, this is alarming. This obesity epidemic we have is fueling an epidemic of diabetes in young people.”

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, since 1980 obesity among children and adolescents has almost tripled.  Today, almost one in five American kids ages 2 to 19 are obese. That is about 12.5 million kids.

Researchers have found that the time spent carrying extra weight matters as much as the amount of extra weight.

“If you’re born in the year 2000 and the current trends continue unchecked, you will have a one in three chance of developing type 2 diabetes,” Anderson said. That risk increases for certain ethnic minorities, including African Americans, Native Americans and Hispanics.

Diabetes is a systemic disease, and by its nature can affect almost every part of a person’s body. Someone with diabetes has a shorter life expectancy, and on any given day has twice the risk for dying as a person of similar age without diabetes, according to the CDC.

“We worry this will be the first generation of Americans who don’t live as long as their parents did,” Anderson said.

“What can be done to alter the potentially grim outlook? To start losing weight, kids need to adopt a set of healthy living skills that become part of their daily routine,” said Sheri Colberg-Ochs, an exercise science professor at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Va., who works with the American Diabetes Association.

“It’s not just the weight, per se,” Colberg-Ochs said. “It’s the lifestyle they’ve developed that caused them to gain the extra weight.”

First, kids need to be taught to eat healthy foods and to avoid foods that are fatty, sugar-packed or heavily processed, she said.

“When food is a lot more refined, it’s lacking in a lot of vitamins and minerals that are essential to your effective metabolic function,” she said. “Kids eat empty calories, and those calories go straight to weight gain.

But they also need to become more physically active, she said. Exercise has been shown to both battle obesity and help better control blood glucose levels in the body.

“Those two things alone would probably solve the problem of childhood obesity, were society to pursue them vigorously,” Colberg-Ochs said.

(SOURCES: John E. Anderson, M.D., vice president, medicine and science, American Diabetes Association; Sheri Colberg-Ochs, Ph.D., professor, exercise science, Old Dominion University, Norfolk, Va., and adjunct professor, internal medicine, Eastern Virginia Medical School, Norfolk, Va.)


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