The incidence of type II diabetes in children has been growing in frequency the past two decades. There are many contributing factors which I'll address in a minute but I did want to address a recent study published in Circulation that highlight some of the harmful effects of type II diabetes in children.
In this study, researchers at the University of Cincinnati, looked at three groups of youth, one group was lean, the second group was obese and the final group was obese with type II diabetes (TIID). They found that the third group had the highest risk for cardiovascular disease and the greatest carotid intima-media thickness (cIMT see this link to the University of Chicago's explanation of cIMT). Basically, this is a measurement that determines the thickness of the arterial walls. This can be a diagnostic tool for determining the extent of plaque formation and your risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD). Thicker arterial walls would be indicative of an atherosclerotic situation.
Getting back to the study, these results mean that even at a young age, obesity and TIID may contribute to increase of CVD. Aghhhh! The last thing children need to worry about is CVD, particularly when there are preventative measures that one can take avoid obesity and TIID.
As a parent, I feel like I have a strong responsibility to set a good example for my children and teaching them what is a good health lifestyle, particularly when these lifestyles are in decline. Start by eating well (tell me if you've heard this before). Eat lots of vegetables and fruits (at least 5 servings per day). Eat foods that are high fiber. Avoid junk foods. In a recent study, published by a group from New Zealand, they found that supermarkets often discount foods that lack in nutritional value. While you may save pennies now, you may end up paying dollars in medical expenses down the road. Get out and exercise. Exercise will change your life - it simply affects every facet of health in a positive way. Start simple. You don't have to join a gym (you could if felt so inclined) but you can do simple things like walking to work, using the stairs, going for a stroll in the evening with your partner or family members. The important thing is that you start doing it! Limit your alcohol intake and STOP smoking! The benefits are too great to pass up and your children are too important to neglect!