HOW TO PREVENT DIABETES

HOW TO PREVENT DIABETES

November is National Diabetes Month. According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), 1 in 10 Americans has diabetes (keep in mind that most of those numbers are adults with Type 2 diabetes). With the aging and fattening of America, the number of adults diagnosed with diabetes has more than tripled in the last 20 years. In my own practice, it used to be a rare that I would see an overweight child with Type 2 diabetes (classically, an adult problem). I am now seeing quite a few overweight teens (I had a 9-year-old the other day), with Type 2 diabetes. The question is, “Is there anything I can do to help prevent it in my children (and myself)?”

Type 1 diabetes (classically, the childhood, insulin dependent form) is believed to be an autoimmune problem. This means the body’s own immune system attacks itself. We generally believe there isn’t anything anyone can do to necessarily prevent Type 1 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes (classically, the diabetes associated with older, overweight people who have burned out their pancreas) is a different story. If we prevent an individual from becoming overweight, we can often prevent the onset of Type 2 diabetes.

Type 2 Diabetes:

Risk factors that you can change:

  1. Being overweight
  2. Not being physically active (at least 3 times a week).
  3. Poor diet

Risk factors you can’t change:

  1. Age, older than 45 years
  2. Immediate family with Type 2 diabetes
  3. African American, Hispanic or Latino, American Indian or Alaskan Native, Pacific Islander
  4. Ever having gestational diabetes (or a baby who weighed more than 9 lbs.) puts you at higher risk of Type 2 diabetes later in life.

Should I have my kid tested?

During every well-child check, we are supposed to screen your child for signs/risks of diabetes. Your pediatrician may not come right out and say he or she is “screening for diabetes,” but a few simple questions and examination findings can help a doctor identify patients who need further workup. If the answer is “yes” to any of these questions, your pediatrician will likely suggest some blood work to investigate further. Your pediatrician will look at:

  1. Your child’s BMI (body mass index). Is the BMI elevated? This tells a doctor if your child is overweight/obese.
  2. Your child’s diet. Does your child have a poor diet and/or eat too much? How is your child’s fluid intake? (if it’s excessive, it may be a sign of Type 1 diabetes.)
  3. Is there a family history of diabetes (especially first-degree relatives)?
  4. Does your child have other medical conditions that increase his or her risk of diabetes (e.g., cystic fibrosis, polycystic ovarian syndrome, hypercholesterolemia)?
  5. Is your child’s blood pressure elevated?
  6. Does your child have any physical symptoms (e.g., acanthosis nigricans—patches of dark, thick skin especially in areas like the neck and arm pits).

As always, if you are concerned about your child, make sure and talk to your doctor about it. For additional, specific information on diabetes, see the previously posted articles:

TYPE 2 DIABETES: AN ADULT PROBLEM SHOWING UP IN KIDS

EXCESSIVELY THIRSTY CHILD. COULD OUR CHILD HAVE TYPE 1 DIABETES?

Some of the Products I Love

BOOSTER SEATS: THE FACTS AND MY FAVES

One of the questions I get a lot include, "What is the best booster seat?" and "What are the top-rated booster seats?" Here's what I know, and what I use: Booster seats are car seats designed to be used by children between the ages of 4-8 years-old. The seat belt in a...

10 THINGS YOU SHOULD HAVE IN YOUR MEDICINE CABINET

Everyone should have a few common, key items in their medicine cabinet. These few items should help in a pinch, and save you from making trips to the store in the middle of the night. Here are the must haves to any medicine cabinet: Tylenol (generic is acetaminophen)....

SHOULD I BUY A BREAST PUMP?

If you are having a baby and planning on breastfeeding, you may want to consider buying a breast pump. The most valuable time to have a breast pump is generally in the first few days after having a baby. So if you’re going to invest in one, do so early. Consider...

About The Author

Dr. Monica Wonnacott

I'm a pediatrician and a mom. I've been doing this doctor thing for 10 years, and love it. I'm known for giving parents the straight scoop without always sugar-coating it. And I believe in educating parents. The more you know, the better care you give your kids.

Dr. Monica Wonnacott


I'm a pediatrician and a mom. PediatricAnswers.com is my blog where parents can get the straight scoop on their child's health, largely based on my experience in the office and at home. I don't diagnose on the site, so please don't ask. These are just my opinions. Use this site as a resource. And trust your parent gut.

Subscribe Now

HAVE YOU SIGNED UP FOR MY NEWSLETTER?

I send out a free newsletter with some of the articles and recommendations from the site. If you haven't already, please subscribe...and share with your friends on Facebook.

Thanks for subscribing. You'll start getting my newsletter soon.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This