The prevalence of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes is steadily increasing in children throughout the United States, as well as globally. In the last 15 years, type 2 diabetes has been found frequently in children as young as seven. This increase in diabetes is directly linked to an increase in obesity and decrease in physical activity in society as a whole.
Type 2 diabetes used to be called adult-onset diabetes. But now it is becoming more common in children and teens, due to more obesity.
Individual risk factors for diabetes include both your family history and your lifestyle. Diets consisting of mostly carbohydrates, sugars and starches, along with a lack of physical activity contribute to diabetes in children. As TV, video games, and smartphones have grown in popularity, children have been staying inside more and moving less. In many cases, the entire family must be get involved, as often times the children have developed the same eating habits and sedentary lifestyles as their parents. A healthy, balanced diet and consistent exercise can help prevent or delay the onset of diabetes, and helps control diabetes if you have already been diagnosed.
Obesity and diabetes in children can become a vicious cycle, as insulin makes it harder to lose weight. It also makes the child more likely to be hypertensive.
Diabetes is not an easy disease, since the patients have to do most of the work and it is even more difficult for children to understand and to manage their own care properly. When type 2 diabetes is developed early in life, it increases your risk for suffering from stroke and heart disease earlier as well.
Fortunately, Cone Health has an exceptional network of primary care physicians, endocrinologists, dieticians and other related medical professionals dedicated to educating the community about type 1 and type 2 diabetes and providing individualized treatment to improve the health and quality of life of their patients.
Dr. Michael Brennan is a pediatric endocrinologist at Cone Health Pediatric Sub-Specialists of Greensboro. He also specializes in adult endocrinology. Dr. Brennan is a 1978 medical school graduate of University of Massachusetts. He completed his residency in Internal Medicine and Pediatrics, and a fellowship in Adult and Pediatric Endocrinology and Metabolism at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.