Monday, April 6, 2009

Raising future type 2 diabetics

...and I don't mean that in a nice way.

I just saw an article reporting that 1 in 5 preschoolers are obese. Really?! Have diets really gotten so bad in the United States that by the time kids are four years old, they have a 20 percent chance of being obese?

This is horrific for many reasons. One, research has shown that being obese in childhood dramatically increases the likelihood that someone will be obese as an adult. It seems that the body creates a sort of set point during childhood and adolescence, based on the individual's weight during these formative years.

Two, people's habits as adults tend to be sharply influenced by their childhood and adolescence. So if an individual doesn't get into a habit of being active and eating well during their youth, chances are not good that they will do so as an adult.

And of course, obese people are much more likely to suffer health problems as adults, such as heart disease and... you guessed it, type 2 diabetes. In fact, there has been a rise in recent years of children with type 2 diabetes. Now that's scary.

Type 2 diabetes, which stems from a resistance to the insulin the body produces (rather than an inability to make insulin, as in type 1 diabetics), is not always caused by lifestyle and obesity. I know several people who are pre-diabetic, and all of them are thin and reasonably active. Unfortunately, type 2 diabetes that IS caused by obesity and lifestyle problems is becoming much more common.

What all of this means is that if you are allowing your child to become overweight at age 4, you are potentially condemning them to a lifetime of health problems and struggling with their weight. Use common sense, people — get your kids outside, away from the TV and video games, and quit feeding them junk food!

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